Soon’s event-finding app is a social calendar for the mobile generation

Facebook’s Events feature is fairly good at recommending the sort of real-world meetups and activities you may be interested in, but there’s a whole host of other “events” you could be missing out on — like TV show premieres, live broadcasts, pre-orders for a hotly anticipated device, Twitch streams and more. A new app called Soon, from Lowercase Capital managing director Matt Mazzeo and friends, aims to help.

Explains Mazzeo, the idea for Soon was inspired by a feature the live streaming app Meerkat once offered — that is, the idea that you could subscribe to virtual events. That’s an area that Facebook Events generally overlooks.

He worked on Soon with Jackson Dahl and Laz Alberto, also of Lowercase, and girlfriend Jessica Ahlberg. Patrick Mandia and Brian Wagner coded Soon, but everyone on the team served as a product manager, says Mazzeo.

Mazzeo also clarifies that Soon is just an experiment, not an attempt at starting a new business.

“Everybody has real jobs,” he says. “I’m running Lowercase; Jess is an interior designer. Both the front-end and backend engineers are employed and very talented… This is one of those things where we enjoyed building it. The goal was to build it, get it out, and not sit on ideas that we love.”

While a number of event finders have launched over the years, Soon takes a different approach than most.

Instead of ingesting feeds, everything featured in the app is user-generated content — meaning it’s an event someone felt the need to share. The app supports any kind of event, from those taking place in the real world to those that are occurring online, like a live stream or an AMA on Reddit. You can even deep link to another mobile application so it launches the right page in the app where the event takes place.

Events can also be private — like a birthday party among friends — and you can share and discuss events over Soon’s built-in messaging system and group chats.

Soon (not to be confused with the bucket list app by the same name) also focuses on the social aspect of events by highlighting those that are popular with friends. And it points you to people worth following through the app’s leaderboard, which is refreshed regularly to not give preference to early adopters.

Soon’s biggest disadvantage is that it needs to grow its network from the ground up.

Facebook’s Event, by comparison, benefits from Facebook’s vast social network, its numerous Facebook Pages from brands and businesses each with their own events feeds and its understanding of user’s real-world social graphs.

To overcome its “cold start” problem, Soon suggests some users to follow.

Of course, this is both a good and bad thing, as it turns out. While it’s helpful to seed the app with content, following a bunch of people you don’t know means you’re not being shown events your “real” friends are attending, and you may be pointed to events that are taking place far from your current physical location.

That said, the app’s launch is poised to take advantage of SXSW to gain an initial following. Users attending SXSW can follow a “Best of SXSW” account in the app to keep informed of some of the better events taking place in Austin this month.

However, if you’re of a certain age (ahem), Soon can feel a little busy.

Events are displayed in card-style format that shows a title, time, location- and an image — or, often, a GIF. Other visual cues show you who posted it and who’s attending, while buttons let you tap to favorite it, save it, share it, tweet it, grab a link or see a map.

Events are also hashtagged for search and discovery purposes. The app is bright, colorful and animated, and is a lot to take in at first.

Plus, when you tap into an event, the event’s “soundtrack” — a song of the creator’s choosing — starts playing. (Yes, be warned, olds!)

 

But if Soon has staying power beyond SXSW, it’s because it could work as a modern-day calendar for younger people who don’t tend to use traditional calendaring applications.

“A feed just feels natural to the mobile-first gen[eration]. Why shouldn’t your calendar be in that feed mechanic?… It felt like the calendar version of Instagram,” explains Mazzeo.

“Nobody has ever gotten a calendar invite and said ‘yeah, that’s really fun,’” he says, laughing. “So much of social is self-expression, but events always felt so tactical, static and formal. This is an attempt to be way lighter weight and way more fun,” Mazzeo adds.

Thiel’s chief of staff tapped as White House deputy CTO

Peter Thiel has been at Donald Trump’s side since the Republican National Convention, guiding the then-candidate on technology policy and brokering a meeting between him and top tech executives. Now Thiel has secured a place for one of his top aides in Trump’s White House — Michael Kratsios, formerly chief of staff at Thiel Capital, will step into the role of deputy chief technology officer.

The appointment, first reported by Politico Pro and confirmed by TechCrunch, seems like a natural progression of Kratsios’ work alongside Thiel on the transition team.

Prior to his work at Thiel Capital, Kratsios was the chief financial officer of Clarium Capital Management, another fund company founded by Thiel. Kratsios did not respond to a request for comment from TechCrunch, but describes himself on his personal website as passionate about technology and politics. At Princeton, Kratsios conducted thesis research into the links between Greece’s economic performance and its citizens’ voting patterns. His thesis discusses the relationship between economic conditions and “incumbent vote share,” a model fashioned after voting patterns in the United States. Kratsios also took an interest in partisan bias and studied how it changed voters’ perceptions of the economy.

The deputy CTO role was last held by Alexander Macgillivray, a former general counsel at Twitter. The role of White House chief technology officer, previously held by former Googler Megan Smith, has yet to be filled. The CTO works with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy on a broad mandate of issues involving data, innovation and technology policy.

 It’s interesting to see the deputy CTO role filled by someone with experience in venture capital — the Obama administration tended to select technologists from public companies with large user bases, perhaps with the idea that experience serving diverse users would translate well to serving the American people. Fewer people have access to venture capital than have access to Google, so there’s a naturally smaller set of experiences to draw on.

Macgillivray discussed the work that would be left over for the Trump administration in an interview with TechCrunch last September, including enhancing cybersecurity, improving access to data and addressing inequality in tech. “All of it is stuff we’re rushing to get done. Everything from cybersecurity to making sure we’re tackling inequality, that we’re working on some of the interesting long-term things, like artificial intelligence,” Macgillivray said.

U.S. consumers now spend 5 hours per day on mobile devices

The time U.S. users are spending in mobile apps is continuing to grow; according to new data released this week by analytics firm Flurry, we’re up to 5 hours per day on our mobile devices. This follows on news from January that said the time spent in mobile apps had increased 69 percent year-over-year.

Five hours per day is a 20 percent increase compared with the fourth quarter of 2015, and seems to come at the expense of mobile browser usage, which has dropped significantly over the years.

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Browser share on mobile is now at 8 percent, down from 9 percent in Q4 2015, 14 percent in Q1 2014 and 20 percent back in Q1 2013.

The shift into apps can be attributed to many other factors, as well — increased selection in the app stores, better and more available Wi-Fi and mobile broadband and the rise in messaging apps, which sees apps taking over typical phone functions like texting and phone calls, among several other factors.

But as Flurry has noted in the past, apps have grown more popular than watching TV — something that speaks to users’ interest in apps for more than just utility.

In fall 2015, the firm found that U.S. users were spending more time using apps than watching our big TV screens in the living room. The indication here is that apps are sucking up more of our “downtime” where we would have otherwise been passively engaged with television programming. Plus, we’re turning to apps to serve as our means of “watching TV” in many cases, thanks to the availability of streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu and others.

In fact, media and entertainment apps today account for 15 percent of the time we’re spending in apps these days.

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Flurry also says that U.S. users are spending more than half their time (51 percent) in social media, messaging and media and entertainment applications — including those like Snapchat, which now accounts for 2 percent of users’ daily time spent in apps.

Snapchat still has a way to go to challenge social networking behemoth Facebook, however, which commands a 19 percent share thanks to its related properties, WhatsApp and Instagram. However, Snapchat is closing in on YouTube, which has a 3 percent share, Flurry found.

Meanwhile, the remaining “Messaging/Social” category accounts for 12 percent of time spent in apps, the report says.

All this engagement is coming at the expense of another popular app category, as well: games.

Games are still the money-maker for developers and the app platforms, even though their use is dropping. For example, Apple said that New Year’s Day 2017 was the biggest App Store day ever, with $240 million in purchases.

But the category has seen a decline for the second year in a row, and now accounts for 11 percent of time spent in apps, noted Flurry.

With the increased time users spend in apps, the advertising landscape is being affected, too. Apps can now attract TV ad dollars — and they’re even going after TV subscribers thanks to new services like DirecTV Now, Sling TV, YouTube TV and others. Flurry says it believes these entries will have an impact on time spent in the days ahead, and will “siphon even more minutes from TV.”

Clenbuterol Effects: Does it Magically Melt Away Fat or Not?

Are you wondering about the results of clen? Great results can be seen with the use of Clen when combined with a good workout routine and a healthy diet. No one can just relax thinking that Clen will do the job of burning fat. Only when you exercise, the fats stores in fat cells turn into triglycerides which can be eliminated by Clen. Else, the food intake will convert into energy and fat and will be stored in fat cells. Hence, great results can’t be seen.

Image result for Clenbuterol Effects: Does it Magically Melt Away Fat or Not?

Be informed that there are side effects of using Clen for weight loss. There’s no doubt that this drug gets rapid weight loss, but the long term side effects of Clen make people think about it’s use and many use it for a short term only. Using it for a short term and in appropriate doses will result in quick weight loss and later on, in order to keep up with the lost weight, you would need to change your lifestyle and incorporate healthy living along with regular exercise.

Clen has a side effect of heart palpitations. Hence, many body builders do not consider doing cardio exercises while taking Clen.

How does it work: a knowhow

Clenbuterol works on the Central nervous System to slightly increase the body’s internal temperature which increases the metabolism rate and hence results in maximum fat burn.

Clen stimulates beta-2 receptors which are the ones that interact with fat cells. And upon stimulating them, cells begin the lipolysis process which is to free the fatty acids and release them in the bloodstream. This results in eliminating triglycerides which cause the increase in size of cells that store fats. That is the reason for tremendous fat burns seen.

Why is it famous for fat loss?

  1. It’s unique ability to preserve and increase the lean mass in the body that makes it the favorite among body builders.
  2. To add more, one needs very little efforts with Clen to shed away those extra calories. Hence, it is very popular and increasingly accepted by many Hollywood actors.

What are the side effects?

The abuse of any drug will cause side effects. The same is the case with Clen. But the good thing is that these are short termed and can be minimized by following a safe dose and including a lot of water intake. So, here are some side effects:

  • dizziness,
  • heart palpitations,
  • anxiety, overheating,
  • heart problems,
  • raising blood pressure,
  • muscular tremors/cramps,
  • increased appetite and
  • Abnormal sweating.

Should you be taking Clen?

The results are great and the side effects can be minimized. So, is it advisable to start a Clen cycle for weight loss?

Do contact your doctor before starting the dose and do get yourself checked on a regular basis to avoid severe side effects. You also need to have a proper diet and exercise to put you in healthy calorie deficit and help your body to burn it by using Clen.

Nokia 3310 Reboot, Nokia 3, Nokia 5, Nokia 6 Art Black Launched at MWC 2017: Highlights

Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri took the stage at the Nokia MWC 2017 event to welcome HMD Global CEO Arto Nummela on stage, who spoke about the Nokia brand, and its future with Android powering it. Juho Sarvikas, Chief Product Officer, HMD Global said the company will obsess about real-life experience, and will go beyond specifications. He said the Nokia Android phones will be defined by premium build quality, great cameras, and amazing design, and added that premium design should not be limited to high-end smartphones.

Ending its China exclusivity, Nokia 6 finally became globally available, along with the new Nokia 6 Art Black special edition model. The new Nokia 6 and Nokia 6 Art Black Android smartphones have been priced at EUR 229 (approximately Rs. 16,000) and EUR 299 (about Rs.21,000).

The star of the evening, however, was the Nokia 3310 reboot, which now has talk time of 22 hours, standby time of 1 month, and comes with the classic Nokia ringtone that everyone remembers. Also, it comes preloaded with the game Snake, which will also be available as a Facebook Messenger game.

HMD Global in a statement said that Nokia 3, Nokia 5, Nokia 3310 (2017), and Nokia 6 will be launched in India, Asia Pacific, Middle East, Africa, and Europe in Q2 2017.

ZTE Gigabit Phone Launched at MWC 2017, World’s First 5G-Ready Smartphone

Chinese telecoms giant ZTE unveiled Sunday what it said is the world’s first smartphone compatible with the lightening-fast 5G mobile Internet service that networks expect to have up and running by 2020.

ZTE Gigabit Phone Launched at MWC 2017, World's First 5G-Ready Smartphone

The company said the Gigabit Phone is the first smartphone capable of download speeds reaching up to 1 gigabit per second (Gbps) – up to 10 times faster than the first generation of 4G services widely in use today.

The device, unveiled in Barcelona in northeastern Spain on the eve of the start on Monday of the Mobile World Congress, the world’s biggest mobile fair, will allow for 360-degree panoramic Virtual Reality video and fast downloads of ultra Hi-Fi music and videos.

“With the new device, the way people stay connected will be changed forever. Focusing on 5G technologies will be one of the key priorities of ZTE’s global development,” a ZTE spokesman said.

Tech firms are racing to develop products that will be compatible with 5G, shorthand for the fifth generation of networks, which promise blazing fast connectivity for a generation used to streaming movies and TV directly to phones.

Forrester analyst Thomas Husson said ZTE was using the phone to “showcase innovation” and “offer a glimpse into the future when people will be able to download full movies in seconds” but it was not likely to be a big seller.

“The sad reality is that this smartphone will not end up in consumers’ pockets because both 5G and Virtual Reality are still years away to be a mass-market consumer reality,” he added.

Founded in 1985, ZTE offers telecom equipment and services and has customers in more than 160 countries, according to the company.

It is the only Chinese smartphone vendor with a meaningful presence in the United States, where its 10 percent market share makes it the fourth-largest vendor.

Ron Gilbert on recapturing point-and-click’s charm with Thimbleweed Park

‘Charm’ is an elusive quality. What might seem quirky or off-beat in one context can so often slip into the realms of superficial cute-ness.

It can be tempting to try to make characters light-hearted and whimsical, but try too hard and it can feel as though those characters are designed for children, rather than having that cross-generational appeal that true charm guarantees.

LucasArts’ adventure games of the 90s are the good kind of charming. Monkey Island remains one of the funniest games ever made, and the likes of Day of the Tentacle, Maniac Mansion and Grim Fandango remain infinitely playable despite their now-dated mechanics and graphical style.

That these games were good can be put down to a combination of good writing and excellent puzzles; but their charm is much harder to quantify.

Exploring the park

It’s almost reassuring, then, that Ron Gilbert, a pioneer of the genre and the man responsible for such games as The Secret of Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle is returning to the genre’s roots, rather than trying to recapture the same charm with a more modern game.

His latest game, Thimbleweed Park, follows two detectives as they attempt to solve a murder by exploring a Twin Peak’s-esque town, and utilises a pixel-based 2D art style and the same point-and-click interface that will be familiar to anyone who’s played a classic LucasFilm adventure game.

Left-clicking within the environment causes your active character to move, and you can interact with the environment by choosing from a selection of nine verbs, including such classics as ‘use’, ‘look’ and ‘talk’.

So far, so 90s, but the real pleasure in Thimbleweed’s interface is how it streamlines this process. Characters will run if you double-click in the environment, or automatically walk through a door if you choose to open it.

Gilbert explains: “When you open a door, 99% of the time you’re going to walk through it … we want to build a game that’s how you remember those old games being, you remember that old stuff happening but it wasn’t. Walking through doors in Monkey Island was incredibly frustrating, because everything was just ‘open door’ and ‘use door’ and ‘walk through door’, and it was all this laborious clicking to get through stuff.”

The result is that the game’s combination of pixel art and point-and-click interface appear as you remember them, but in reality they function with a modern elegance.

These contemporary design touches mean the game doesn’t feel the need to include a hint system like the recent Monkey Island remasters. “Being about to design something from scratch, with an understanding that we have this slightly more modern or older audience with kids and families, has just caused us to file all the rough edges off of the puzzle-solving,” Gilbert says.

But don’t confuse filing off “all the rough edges” with “making the game easy”. Clearer objectives and characters that repeat key plot details are common tactics employed throughout the course of the segments of the game we’ve played, and this allows the puzzles to remain hard without becoming frustrating.

There’s even a harder difficulty mode included with the game that adds extra stages to the puzzle-solving for those who want a more involved experience.

A laid-back beginning

Although we were assured that harder puzzles are present in the game, the game’s early section that we played was a relaxing affair.

The demo opens with our two detectives, Angela Ray and Antonio Reyes, standing over a decomposing body (or ‘pixelating’ as the characters refer to it). They head into town in search of clues, and, after a brief interlude spent discussing the merits of adventure games with a couple of life-sized pigeons, start to become acquainted with the town’s wide cast of characters.

Before long we’re delving into the family back story of one of the Thimbleweed Park’s residents, playing through a flashback segment as a young girl who dreams of becoming a video game designer and escaping the town.

Every character we encounter feels like they have a similar depth to their back story, resulting in an environment that’s populated with characters rather than movie extras or cardboard cut-outs.

We only meet them for a moment, but the owners of the town’s diner appear especially interesting. “If you talk to them you realise there’s something weird going on in this diner with these two people,” Gilbert teases. “You start to piece together what their whole story is and why they’re in the town.”

A videogamey video game

The language of video games is baked into the soul of Thimbleweed park. Whether it’s that video game designer subplot, or referring to a decomposing corpse, the game is proud of what it is – a traditional video game.

But as much as it’s a celebration of the genre, this meta-humor is ultimately present because Gilbert finds it funny. “As a vehicle for humor, I’ve always liked fourth-walling,” he says. “My favorite comedy movie of all time is Blazing Saddles. That’s a movie that starts out very normally, but … then the end of the movie just comes off the rails. I just love that the movie does that.”

Thimbleweed Park is charming and well written, and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed the time we’ve spent with it so far. Although the humor is often gently amusing rather than laugh-out-loud funny, this feels in keeping with the sedate pace of the whole experience.

If you’ve loved Ron Gilbert’s work in the past then Thimbleweed Park is an easy game to recommend based on the time we’ve spent with it – and from the sounds of things, Gilbert is nowhere near done with the genre.

“I think the point-and-click genre is like book or film,” he says. “There’s an infinite number of stories that you can tell … and I think the point-and-click is just a vehicle for storytelling.”

“My dream is that Thimbleweed Park does very well, and I spend the rest of my life making a million units of point-and-click games.”

And we can’t help but dream along with him.

The best Linux distros: 7 versions of Linux we recommend

Think Macs are a rip-off and Windows 10 doesn’t respect your privacy? Maybe it’s high time you take Linux for a spin. If you’ve never used Linux and cower at the sound of “open-source” software, fret not, as this guide will aid you in your quest to find the best Linux distro to date.

A distro, or distribution, is tech-talk for the way in which the Linux operating system is packaged. Each distro is differentiated by its default interface, i.e. the way it looks, catalog of stock applications and even repositories, the library of apps officially supported by the specific “brand” of Linux.

  • These 13 Linux distros are both weird and wonderful

If you prefer the classic Linux experience of using terminal commands to navigate the OS, it’s still an option. However, you can also install an ultra-accessible distro that resembles Windows and macOS , minus the demanding system requirements.

Here, we’ve gathered seven of the best Linux distros to cover all of your common needs. From those boasting two-factor authentication support to those that are lightweight and compatible with your 10-year-old laptop, each is free and readily available to install.

If you’re after a distro that gets you as far away from the image of a nerdy hacker type bashing away at a terminal interface as possible, Elementary OS is what you need. It’s probably the most attractive distro around, with a style similar to that of Mac OS X. Elementary OS’s desktop environment is known as Pantheon, providing the tasty Apple sauce.

The latest version is called Loki, and as well as being that bit prettier and neater than Freya, the “2015” edition, it has its own application installer UI called App Center. It’s a delightfully simple way to install apps outside the terminal, which is handy as not much comes installed as standard.

The look is the main draw here, but Elementary OS also features the Epiphany browser, the Geary email client and a few basic ‘tool’ apps. This is a distro you’ll have to fill out a bit, but it isn’t half elegant.

Linux Mint is a great ‘default’ distro for new Linux users, as it comes with a lot of the software you’ll need when switching from OS X or Windows. We’re talking about packages like LibreOffice, the office suite that many, or most, Linux fans use.

You can download four main starter flavours of Mint 18, each of which uses a different desktop environment, the top-most layer of the interface. Cinnamon is the most popular at the moment, but our purely personal pick of the bunch at the moment is KDE. Pour scorn in the comments if you must. For those new to Linux, these

The other desktop environments you can download as part of the installer include MATE and Xfce. All offer a good deal of customisation so the best policy is to have a try of a few and see which fits best. For those newer to Linux, these desktop environment change the look and layout of the basic Linux interface and its Start menu. You don’t get that with Windows.

If you’re willing to try a slightly less friendly distro, Arch Linux is one of the most popular choices around. It’s a fairly light package, leaving you to customise your build using the terminal and typed-out installer commands.

This used to be standard procedure for Linux, but you can now side-step this lvl 1 techie part if you like, with a more hand-holding distro.

There’s even such a version of Arch Linux, called Antergos. This comes with more drivers, more applications and a bunch of desktop environments to let you change the look of the system. Its aim is to get you up and running with all the basics right from the initial install, but it’s still Arch Linux underneath.

The hardcore crowd may turn their noses up at packages like Antergos, but when it saves those newer to Linux hours of potentially frustrating fiddling about, we’re all for it. Another accessible take on Arch worth checking out is Manjaro. It’s similar to Antergos but uses its own software repositories.

An elder statesman of the Linux distort world, Ubuntu is one of the lead flavours of Linux, and a good starting point for Linux novices. As with most obscenely popular pieces of software, it’s not just made for the Linux obsessives.

At the time of writing we’re up to Ubuntu 16.04.01, an LTS (long term support) release that guarantees five years of security and general maintenance updates so you can be sure you’re not left with a rotting corpse at the centre of your system.

As standard it uses the Unity interface, which is perhaps one of the less familiar looks for Linux if you’re used to Windows or OS X. However, there are loads of easy-to-understand alternative packages available right from the Ubuntu website.

These include versions with the LXDE, MATE, XFCE and GNOME desktop environment skins as well as Ubuntu Studio for creative types and Mythbuntu, designed for home theatre PCs. Sadly Mythbuntu’s creators announced in November 2016 that it will no longer be able to support the distro. Don’t get angry: devs are normal people too, remember.

Most of our favourite Linux distros are suitable for use as alternatives to Windows or OS X. Tails is quite different, though.

It’s a distro whose aim is solely to keep the identity of the user completely opaque. Even Edward Snowden used it.

It routes its traffic through Tor, designed to avoid your outward-bound data from being intercepted and analysed. Underneath all the security measures, it’s based on Debian so doesn’t feel like you’re using a system made of tin foil and paranoia too.

Tails isn’t for everyone, but does give you some peace of mind if all the worrying privacy bills being passed at the moment weigh heavily on your mind.

Here’s another Linux distro that is a little different from most. CentOS 7 a community offshoot of the Enterprise version of Red Hat Linux, and its focus is on stability rather than constant updates. The support of releases is massive too, spanning 10 years from initial release.

The idea is to make CentOS super reliable. For that reason, it’s a great choice for a server, if not quite so hot for someone looking for a new OS for the desktop or laptop they’ll use day-to-day. This is a ‘slow and steady’ take on Linux.

Want something to run on a home or small business server? CentOS is great. But most of you will want to consider one of the other picks in this feature.

If you want a home music recording studio or a video production workstation without spending the thousands of pounds involved with industry standard software, download KX Studio.

This is a distro designed for audio and video production, a sort-of freebie alternative to Pro Tools. Support for audio plug-ins and MIDI input is inbuilt and a virtual patch bay comes pre-installed.

Its repositories also include a few digital audio sequencers, and its main strength is in audio recording. It’s more intimidating than the similarly creative-driven Ubuntu Studio because of the sheer technical nature of its components, but if you’re willing to put some work into getting your head around it, this is a very useful distro.

Caavo wants to cure streaming video headaches by unifying your set-top boxes

One of the greatest pains in the life of a cord cutter is you can’t get all the premium video services you want in a single box. For example, if you’re invested in the Apple TV ecosystem but also want to watch The Grand Tour with your Amazon Prime subscription, you’re out of luck—Amazon’s video service is not on Apple TV.caavo

A new start-up named Caavo thinks it has a solution for all your set-top box woes… and it’s another set-top box. Well, that’s a little unfair. It’s really a fancier, more intelligent video input switcher, but even that doesn’t quite capture what the $400—yes, $400—Caavo aims to do.

The box made its debut at the Recode conference, as first reported by The Verge. The Caavo features enough HDMI ports to connect almost every set-top gizmo that even the most exuberant A/V fan would have. (The box will work with a wide range of set-top boxes and sticks including Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV, Roku, cable boxes, game consoles, and Blu-ray players.) Then the box’s software deep-links to the content inside each of those individually connected boxes, and pulls them all together in Caavo’s basic interface.

The end result: You can access iTunes movies and Amazon Video from the same screen. You still have to have the original boxes, but instead of switching between HDMI ports, Caavo puts all your inputs onto one screen, controlled by a single remote.

The box itself offers eight HDMI ports, two USB ports, an ethernet jack, and a 3.5mm jack for an IR extension cable. The footprint is fairly large at 16 inches wide, and the Caavo weighs in at four pounds. It features a steel bottom for stability and a wood top in either bamboo, mahogany, and tiger wood.

Caavo will have an Alexa skill allowing you to control the device from your Amazon smart speaker, and will also ship with its own voice control-enabled remote.

Caavo is a somewhat simple but effective idea for anyone with a growing set-top box collection. It’s not clear, however, what set-top box makers will think of it. The major technology companies are currently battling it out to dominate the living room with their various set-top boxes, services, and HDMI sticks. They may not take kindly to a third party that effectively turns each set-top box into a white label service.

Then again, the set-top box makers may not be too concerned about Caavo at first as this is definitely going to be a niche product. Again, when it ships this fall Caavo will be priced at $400. Caavo told The Verge its price is “premium but approachable” for those motivated to get a single TV experience from a multitude of set-top boxes.

This story, “Caavo wants to cure streaming video headaches by unifying your set-top boxes” was originally published by TechHive.

A privacy-focused browser developer just bought Ghostery

Cliqz, the German developer of the privacy-focused browser of the same name, has acquired the tracker-blocking browser extension Ghostery and its development team from its creator, Evidon.cliqz acquires ghostery

Partly owned by Mozilla, Cliqz will combine Ghostery’s technology with similar functions in its browser, but plans to continue development of the extension for other browsers too, it said Wednesday.

The sale will resolve an apparent conflict of interest for Evidon, which on the one hand provided the Ghostery extension to enhance privacy, and on the other sold aggregate information to businesses regarding which trackers users blocked. It will still obtain that aggregate information from Cliqz, but one step removed.

Sharing of aggregate data and the creation of user accounts are optional features of the extension.

The Ghostery antitracking tool has about 10 million active users worldwide, the companies said. One advantage of the acquisition that Cliqz touted is that it is based in Germany, a country with some of the strictest privacy laws in the world, which it said should provide better privacy protection for any data the company holds about its users.

While Cliqz sets about integrating Ghostery’s functions into its browser, it recommends adding the Ghostery extension to the Cliqz browser, or using the Ghostery and Cliqz extensions for Mozilla’s Firefox together. Cliqz offers beta versions of its browser for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android and iOS. The Ghostery extension is available for Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Internet Explorer, Safari and Opera, with some functions available in mobile apps for iOS and Android.