All posts in “Software”

GoPro launches Trade-Up program to swap old cameras for discounts

GoPro is willing to take that old digital camera stuffed in your junk drawer even if it’s not a GoPro. Through a program called Trade-Up, the camera company will discount the GoPro H6 Black $50 and Fusion $100 when buyers trade in any digital camera. The company tried this last year for 60 days, but as of right now, GoPro is saying this offer does not expire.

This offer works with any digital camera including old GoPros. It clearly addresses something we noticed years ago — there’s often little reason to buy a new GoPro because their past products were so good.

GoPro tried this in 2017 for 60 days and says 12,000 customers took advantage of the program.

The service is reminiscent of what wireless carries do to encourage smartphone owners to buy new phones. It’s a clever solution though other options could net more money. Users could sell their camera on ebay or use other trade-in programs. Best Buy lets buyers trade in old cameras, too, and currently gives $60 for a GoPro Hero3+ Black and $55 for a HD Hero 960.

GoPro is in a tough position and this is clearly a plan to spur sales. The company’s stock is trading around an all-time low after a brief upswing following a report that Chinese electronic maker Xiaomi was considering buying the company. The company also recently started licensing its camera technology and trimmed its product line while introducing a new, $200 camera.

StudioBricks is a Barcelona-based startup that sends you a studio in a box

My friend Rick is a voiceover artist and works in Ohio – right along the flight path for jets taking off and landing at the Columbus airport. As a result, he said, he had to record late at night when the airport closed, a limitation that he found exasperating.

Enter StudioBricks, a cool startup from Barcelona. Founded by Guillermo Jungbauer, the small company makes and sells soundproof studios that click together like LEGO. The company started in 2008 and created a USA subsidy in 2014.

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StudioBricks aren’t cheap. Rick paid $9,940 for his including almost $2,000 shipping. However, he said, it’s been a life-saver.

“The Studiobricks sound isolation booths are designed to be incredibly fast and easy to install without compromising the booths excellent sound isolating properties,” said Jungbauer. “This is achieved thanks to its modular panels which are built of high performance sound isolating materials and can simply be slotted together.”

The company sold 1,053 cabins in 207 and they’re on track to keep growing.

“About ten years ago I created the first booth as rehearsal space out of his own need as saxophonist,” said Jungbauer. “I developed the first bricks with acoustic engineers already having in mind the market possibilities.”

The system includes a ventilation system, a heavy, sound-proof door, and solid, sound-proofed wall panels. Rick, in his long build post, found it easy build and quite effective at keeping the plane noise at bay.

“From the beginning on Studiobricks aims to be eco-friendly. We are in a continuous process of improvement and have a strong commitment with the environment,” said Jungbauer. “That means that both, on an organisational level and product level we are improving continuously our processes and product considering the best options regarding the environment. For example years ago we changed our lacquer to a water based one. Our plant is the first and right now only in Spain using a biomass based central heating boiler.”

It’s cool to see a small European company selling a niche product gain such success. Because the company solves a notoriously difficult and wildly frustrating problem they are getting all the organic traction they need to keep going. Given the rise of corporate podcasting and other recording needs, a system like StudioBricks makes perfect sense. Considering it can be put together by two people in a few hours it is almost like the Ikea of vocal studios – compact, easy to build, and incredibly useful.

And now Rick doesn’t have to worry about the Delta flight from JFK intruding on his audio book reading session. Ganar-ganar, as they say in Barcelona.

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MacOS finally gains external GPU support

The latest update to macOS provides support for external graphics card. Apple announced this would hit the OS last June at WWDC and now it’s finally here. The update allows Mac users to increase the graphical processing power through an external graphics card connected through Thunderbolt 3.

Perviously users had to buy an eGPU dev kit from Apple or employ unofficial means to enable external graphics cards, which meant Apple wouldn’t bail them out if something happened. The additional horsepower isn’t needed for general use, but the added graphics cards supercharge Macs for VR, rendering and gaming. Only a handful of eGPUs are compatible with macOS so choose carefully before adding one to your rig.

The feature comes from the High Sierra 10.13.4 Combo Update which also adds Business Chat in Messages, a new iTunes and a super handy feature to Safari in which users can jump to the right-most open tab by using Command+9.

Microsoft can ban you for using offensive language

A report by CSOOnline presented the possibility that Microsoft would be able to ban “offensive language” from Skype, Xbox, and, inexplicably, Office. The post, which cites Microsoft’s new terms of use, said that the company would not allow users to “publicly display or use the Services to share inappropriate content or material (involving, for example, nudity, bestiality, pornography, offensive language, graphic violence, or criminal activity)” and that you could lose your Xbox Live Membership if you curse out a kid Overwatch.

“We are committed to providing our customers with safe and secure experiences while using our services. The recent changes to the Microsoft Service Agreement’s Code of Conduct provide transparency on how we respond to customer reports of inappropriate public content,” said a Microsoft spokesperson. The company notes that “Microsoft Agents” do not watch Skype calls and that they can only respond to complaints with clear evidence of abuse. The changes, which go into effect May 1, allows Microsoft to ban you from it services if you’re found passing “inappropriate content” or using “offensive language.”

These new rules give Microsoft more power over abusive users and it seems like Microsoft is cracking down on bad behavior on its platforms. This is good news for victims of abuse in private communications channels on Microsoft products and may give trolls pause before they yell something about your mother on Xbox. We can only dare to dream.

Twitter moves to ban crypto ads

Twitter is the latest social service to boot out cryptocurrency advertisers. The company told Reuters it will be launching a new policy this week to prohibit the advertising of token sales/initial coin offerings (ICOs), and crypto wallet services.

Ads for cryptocurrency exchanges will also be banned — with some limited exceptions.

Facebook announced a ban in January, while Google said earlier this month that it will ban them from June.

Twitter confirmed the policy change to us, providing the following statement: “We are committed to ensuring the safety of the Twitter community. As such, we have added a new policy for Twitter Ads relating to cryptocurrency. Under this new policy, the advertisement of Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) and token sales will be prohibited globally.”

“We will continue to iterate and improve upon this policy as the industry evolves,” it added — flagging its current restricted content policies around financial services.

A company spokesperson told us it expects to update its ads policies page within the next hour. At the time of writing the page was last updated on August 30th 2017.

Since then Twitter has faced criticism for hosting crypto ads on its platform at a time when concern over cryptocurrency-related scams and risks have been voiced by regulators around the world. As we wrote earlier this month, banning these sorts of adverts really is a no brainer at this stage — so it’s good to see it listening and rethinking its approach.

Twitter has been taking some action to tackle crypto scams. Earlier this month we reported it had been suspending some users for soliciting crypto — in an apparent effort to crack down on scammers’ ability to use the platform.

But, at the time, it was not keen to comment on its crypto ads policy — even though its existing ads policy prohibits unsafe and deceptive ads and/or ads that make misleading claims.

As we said then a platform level ban on crypto advertising is just common sense — at least until the market is properly regulated.

We understand Twitter’s new crypto ads policy will continue to be reviewed as the industry evolves.

And while ICOs/token sale ads will be banned globally there’s some wiggle room for exchanges and wallet services — with only those provided by a public company listed on certain major stock markets allowed to buy Twitter ads.

In certain market further restrictions may also apply — such as that exchanges must be regulated by an FSA to be allowed to purchase ads.