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A Dating Site With No Faces

In the age of rapid-fire profile scanning, can a matchmaking website that doesn't immediately show you what its users look like succeed?

Are your thumbs getting tired of swiping? An up-and-coming app is turning the superficial premise of digital dating on its head with anonymous matches that—gasp!—make character paramount to appearance.

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Sam Robles/Corbis

In an attempt to transform mobile dating into a more effective tool for long-term connection, Twine is pairing users up on a “personality first and looks later” basis, in the words of its founder, 35-year-old Rohit Singal. First, matches are made on the location-based app through interests listed on users’ Facebook profiles. Then—and here’s the catch—while chatting you see only a blurred-out photo of your match, which doesn’t become clear until you both agree to reveal yourselves.

Billing itself “the first intellectual flirting and dating app,” Twine was released in August and has so far seen around 120,000 downloads and more than 1 million matches. Late last month, the company released a revamped version, which lets you pick from matches nearby, within the U.S. or around the world.

Steam Heat

Solar Power on a Grand Scale

There’s a new type of solar plant coming online. It's huge, cool looking, and might be able to provide power at night. Does it have a future?

The massive solar plant nearing completion in the California’s Mojave desert doesn’t look like the solar plants you might be used to seeing. It has no solar panels, for one thing. Instead, it has mirrors—300,000 of them—all arrayed in rings around three giant towers. The mirrors reflect sunlight onto vats of water sitting on top of the towers, heating them to 500 degrees and powering a steam turbine, providing enough energy for 140,000 homes. When it goes online at the end of the year, it will be one of the biggest solar plants in the world. But the technology at its heart is relatively simple: mirrors, water boilers, and steam turbines.

Ivanpah Solar Power Facility

An aerial view of the Ivanpah Solar Power Facility with Tower 1, 2 and 3, where heliostats installation is nearly completed in Ivanpah, California on April 5, 2013. (Gilles Mingasson/Getty for Bechtel)

The plant, called Ivanpah, is funded by Google, NRG, and BrightSource, a company that specializes in what’s called concentrated solar power, or CSP, a method of using focused sunlight to turn a steam generator. The technology isn’t new: a small test plant that uses mirrored troughs to heat oil-filled tubes has been running in California for 20 years. Going back further, you could point to the French inventor Agustin Mouchot, who experimented with solar powered steam engines in the 19th century, thinking we were about to run out of coal. The current batch of plants are huge—thousands of acres—and use computer-controlled mirrors to heat boilers that sit on top of towers. (You can take a virtual tour of Ivanpah's triple-tower array here.) Three giant CSP plants are scheduled to go online in the next few months, and the companies that have spent years and billions of dollars building them hope they’ll provide a valuable new source of renewable energy.

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Tower 1 of the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, seen from the solar field. (Gilles Mingasson/Getty Images for Bechtel)

TWITTER LOSSES

In Defense of Jonathan Franzen

Jonathan Franzen is in a fracas over his comments deploring our literary culture, Amazon, and social media. Michelle Goldberg defends the novelist—and says we should admit we’re losing something important to the Internet.

The Internet gets very angry if you criticize it. Earlier this month, as you probably know, Jonathan Franzen published a nearly 6,500-word lament, modestly titled “What’s Wrong With the Modern World,” about the eclipse of literary culture by a digital swarm of “yakkers and tweeters and braggers.” The reason you probably know this is because the piece was so widely mocked and reviled. “Jonathan Franzen Misses the Old Days, When Women Couldn’t Tweet Back,” Amanda Hess wrote in Slate. The real problem with the modern world, Mic Wright declared in The Telegraph, is “the veneration and promotion of tedious bores like Jonathan Franzen.” His essay was considered so risible that few even bothered trying to argue with it. “[T]he piece seems designed to attract Internet hate-reads,” wrote Caroline Bankoff in Vulture, dismissing it as an extended exercise in trolling. 

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Basso Cannarsa/LUZphoto

What did Franzen do to invite such ire? It’s not like he insulted Oprah again. The essay’s central device—using the fin-de-siecle Viennese satirist and aphorist Karl Kraus to discuss the spiritual impoverishment of technocapitalism—might be pretentious, but it’s hardly inflammatory. (It was even pretty illuminating.) I was annoyed by an offhand line equating leftists who “think we coddle Israel” with right-wingers who “think we coddle black people”—the former is true, the latter delusional—but Franzen’s critics aren’t angry because of what he’s saying about Zionism or race. 

No, his crime is nostalgia. He thinks Twitter is stupid and pernicious. He misses the days when publishers made long-term investments in promising young authors and “every magazine and newspaper had a robust books section.” Amazon, he writes, “wants a world in which books are either self-published or published by Amazon itself, with readers dependent on Amazon reviews in choosing books, and with authors responsible for their own promotion.” Franzen does not want this world. Well, the Internet has an answer to that! #Elitist!!!

COMPETITION

Samsung Introduces Gold Galaxy 4

Samsung Introduces Gold Galaxy 4 Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

In response to iPhone launch.

In an effort to keep up with the new iPhone, Samsung is releasing its own gold phone. The Gold Edition Galaxy S4 will come in either gold pink or gold brown. The company has released pictures of its new product on its social-media sites in the United Arab Emirates. It's not clear whether Samsung's gold phones will make it to the global market, as the phones appear to geared toward a wealthier demographic.

Read it at The Verge

A video featuring a homeless man doing ‘Breaking Bad’ impressions is going viral—but is it fake? Brian Ries investigates.

A video of a homeless man doing stellar Breaking Bad impressions for a sandwich is quickly racking up the views on YouTube, but Internet users are already raising doubts over its authenticity. 

The video, which was posted by a user named Corey Webb sometime on Monday, begins with two guys driving up to a shirtless, bearded man who is standing near the entrance to a store parking lot. They then offer him a sandwich in exchange for "some of those impressions from yesterday."

Those impressions, it turns out, are pretty good.

Hoax

Horse_ebooks Is Dead

A Twitter spambot that was beloved for its short bursts of robotic poetry was revealed to be a human’s art project. Brian Ries on the demise of his beloved Horse_ebooks.

In the wild, cynical world of "The Internet," where viral marketing hucksters lurk in the shadows, the @Horse_ebooks Twitter account was a rare gem.

It was an automated Twitter spambot, tweeting random segments of e-books once every few hours, in a scheme, it was thought, to avoid Twitter's spam detectors. The result was a beloved form of new-age bionic poetry. It featured short phrases that had been written by and intended for humans, but curated by and presented for robots. It was unintended art that spanned the digital divide. It had fans. It was proof that we could co-exist. Proof that we could like each other. Love, even. A reassurance of the future.

Horse_ebooks

Or so we thought.

#WINNER

Twitter Picks NYSE for IPO

Nasdaq punished for Facebook debacle.

And the red rose goes to the New York Stock Exchange. Hoping to avoid a repeat of NASDAQ’s bungling of the Facebook IPO, Twitter has announced its share will be listed on the venerable NYSE. The IPO is expected to take place sometime in the next several months. Twitter will reportedly sell 50 million to 55 million shares at a valuation of $28 to $30 a share, meaning that the company would be valued at $15 billion to 16 billion. The loss is another black eye for NASDAQ, which has generally dominated the listings for rapidly growing technology companies (Apple, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn).

Read it at CNBC

Like

Hack Your Facebook

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Dado Ruvic/Reuters

Facebook exerts an inordinate amount of control over your life. While the social network has effectively eroded your social skills and productivity, now it’s time to take the power back. Here are some hacks to make it work for you.

Download What Facebook Knows About You

We’re constantly bombarded with warnings about the mass of data Facebook is collecting on us. So, why not see exactly what it has? Under the “General Account Settings,” a line at the bottom offers up a copy of everything gleaned from your Facebook, including photos, messages, and posts, but also “information that is not available simply by logging into your account, like the ads you have clicked on, data like the IP addresses that are logged when you log into or out of Facebook, and more.”

Remove Ads

iFRENZY

Apple’s Busy Weekend

Who says we’ve reached peak Apple? Over the weekend, the company captured the public’s imagination (and dollars) with the launch of two new iPhone models.

It turns out that reports of Apple’s death have been greatly exaggerated.

It was a big weekend for Apple with the release of its new line of iPhones. The company should say a hearty “thank you” to all the fanboys and fangirls who embraced the new product. They should also start pronouncing the phrase “xie xie ni.”

China Apple New iPhones

Andy Wong/AP

Why? For the first time, Apple simultaneously released a new product in the U.S. and China. And that combination of developed-world and developing-world demand powered Apple to a blockbuster launch.

Trade Secrets

Chinese Hackers Focused on Drone Technology

Chinese Hackers Focused on Drone Technology Oliver Berg/AP

Two-year operation targeted at least 20 companies.

When we talk about improvements in international communication, this isn't what we mean. A Chinese hacking operation targeted at least 20 defense contractors worldwide over the course of two years, the New York Times reported on Friday. The hackers reportedly have a strong focus on drone technology, and affected companies believe they are looking to turn China into a world leader in drone manufacturing for both domestic use and export. The country's Foreign Ministry even claims to be a victim itself. But here's where things get complicated: the hacking group, called the Comment Crew, has been tracked to a People's Liberation Army building near Shanghai.

Read it at New York Times

Here and Gone

The Snapchat Explosion

The app’s users send 350 million photos daily, all of which vanish in mere seconds. It’s social media’s puberty: sexting or dorky fun without a permanent record. By Winston Ross.

A digital lifespan of 10 seconds. No record of your goofy selfie.

This is the promise of Snapchat, the mobile app that theoretically allows users to send whatever silly or ugly or dirty picture they want, to whomever they want, and never have it come back to haunt them, to leave no digital trace. It is a false promise, as anyone with the technical chops to run a screen capture knows, but that doesn’t really seem to matter.

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Snapchat users are now sending 350 million images to one another every day, up from 200 million in June and 20 million a year ago. Be it safe, be it foolhardy, Snapchat appears to be on fire.

way harsh

4,500 Blackberry Employees to Be Laid Off

4,500 Blackberry Employees to Be Laid Off Ethan Miller/Getty

Company expected to report second quarter losses of between $950 million and $975 million.

Feeling guilty about your fancy new iPhone yet? An overabundance of unsold smartphones have cost BlackBerry Ltd. almost $1 billion in its fiscal second quarter and will result in 4,500 of the company's employees losing their jobs. In a statement released Friday, the company said it was expecting operating losses of about $950 million to $995 million for the quarter. Only 3.7 million BlackBerry smartphones were sold in the latest quarter, according to the statement, most of which were older phones, not the two flagship new phones that were unveiled in January. The company's shares also went down on Friday about 17% to $8.73.

Read it at Wall Street Journal

they're watching

Facebook Analyzing Meaning in Your Post

Facebook Analyzing Meaning in Your Post Joerg Koch/AP

With artificial intelligence analysis.

Because everything you write is deep and meaningful, Facebook is seeking to understand the 700 milion people who share details of their personal lives on the network daily. A research group called the AI team is working to delve into an artificial intelligence called "deep learning," which processes data by simulating networks of brain cells. It could find emotions or occurences in the language even when they're not referenced, identify objects in photos, and predict future behavior. Facebook says it will improve the news feed and personalized update list.

Read it at Technology Review

ROCKSTAR

Grand Theft Auto V Rakes in $800M

Grand Theft Auto V Rakes in $800M Wikimedia Commons

In first 24 hours.

That’s quite a heist. On its first day on the market, Grand Theft Auto V made a record $800 million in sales worldwide (not counting Japan and Brazil, where the game has yet to launch), according to game-maker Take-Two Interactive. GTA’s opening sales blow away the previous record holder, Call of Duty: Black Ops II, which brought in $500 million in its first 24 hours. Some 8,300 stores opened at midnight to accommodate gamers, who lined up to get their itchy trigger fingers on the most highly anticipated (and graphically violent) videogame of the year, which is expected to cross the $1 billion mark soon.

Read it at The Los Angeles Times

READY FOR IMMORTALITY?

Google Wants to Expand Human Life Span

Google Wants to Expand Human Life Span Emmanuel Dunand, AFP / Getty Images

Announces new focus on health.

If Google has anything to do with it, today might be the beginning of human immortality. CEO Larry Page on Wednesday announced Calico, a new venture that will focus on health care and wellness. He wrote that technology should be used to improve lives, and said people shouldn’t “be surprised if we invest in projects that seem strange or speculative compared with our existing Internet businesses.” The firm, a company separate from Google, will focus on possibilities to expand the human life span and is the topic of this week’s upcoming Time cover story.

Read it at Google

13 Hacks to Improve Your Google Search

13 Hacks to Improve Your Google Search

Even the king of all search engines can be throttled up with a few simple tricks.

The App Center

The Snapchat Explosion

The Snapchat Explosion

The photo app is social-media’s puberty: naughty or dorky fun without a permanent record. By Winston Ross.

Taxi!

Hailo Summons Taxis

Yelp for Men?

Rate This Guy

Tech Saver

Put That Phone Down

Connecting...

The Sex-Tracking App

What the Future Holds

Does Your Drone Deliver?

Does Your Drone Deliver?

Around the world, unmanned aircraft are the hottest thing in food delivery. But don’t try it at home just yet.

WHOOSH!

Musk Unveils Hyperloop

ANTICIPATION

Google Glass Frenzy Builds

Technology