Walt Mossberg is retiring in June

It was a June day when I began my career as a national journalist. I stepped into the Detroit Bureau of The Wall Street Journal and started on what would be a long, varied, rewarding career. I was 23 years old, and the year was 1970. That’s not a typo.

So it seems fitting to me that I’ll be retiring this coming June, almost exactly 47 years later. I’ll be hanging it up shortly after the 2017 edition of the Code Conference, a wonderful event I co-founded in 2003 and which I could never have imagined back then in Detroit.

I didn’t make this decision lightly or hastily or under pressure. It emerged from months of thought and months of talks with my wise wife, my family, and close friends. It wasn’t prompted by my employer or by some dire health diagnosis. It just seems like the right time to step away. I’m ready for something new.

Over my career, I’ve reinvented myself numerous times. I covered the Pentagon, the State Department, and the CIA. I wrote about labor wars, trade wars, and real wars. I chronicled a nuclear plant meltdown and the defeat of communism. I co-founded a couple of media businesses.

And, in the best professional decision of my life, I converted myself into a tech columnist in 1991. As a result, I got to bear witness to a historic parade of exciting, revolutionary innovation — from slow, clumsy, ancient PCs to sleek, speedy smartphones; from CompuServe and early AOL to the mobile web, apps, and social media. My column has run weekly in a variety of places over the years, most recently on The Verge and Recode under the Vox Media umbrella, where I’ve been quite happy and have added a podcast of which I’m proud.

So I see retirement as just another of these reinventions, another chance to do new things and be a new version of myself.

I will likely write a bit more about this before I stop. But, for now, I just want to thank you for reading, viewing, and listening to me over the years, and for letting me know when you thought me right or crazy.

I want to thank Vox Media, The Verge, Recode, The Wall Street Journal, and CNBC for giving me a voice. And, to name just a few individuals, I want to thank some indispensable career partners along the way: Kara Swisher, Norm Pearlstine, Paul Steiger, Larry O’Donnell, Jim Bankoff, Nilay Patel, Lia Lorenzano-Kennett, Stephanie Capparell, and Katie Boehret.

I’m not going anywhere for a while, so you’ll still be seeing my columns, TV appearances, and podcasts this month and next. I will enjoy creating every one of them, just as I enjoyed writing those stories from Detroit in 1970.

Wide-angles, squares, and much more: Get the best from the LG G6’s superb camera

The G6 continues the tradition of LG phones featuring excellent cameras, with a dual-lens wide-angle rear camera as well as a wide-angle selfie cam on the front. The G6’s other party piece, its 5.7-inch 18:9 aspect ratio screen, also enhances the camera experience through a special app, and some additional features.

More: Keep your new LG G6 safe from damage with these 7 cases and covers

While it’s not hard to just pick up the G6 and go shoot some excellent pictures, it’s worth taking the time to understand its intricacies, so we’ve put together a guide to help you really make the most of this great camera phone.

Wide-angle rear camera

The main camera app is the one you’ll use most of the time, but the interface is quite busy, so it’s a good idea to learn the various controls. Holding the phone in landscape orientation, at the top centre of the display are two buttons, each showing little tree icons. The left button with a single tree icon is for the standard-angle lens, but tap the button next to it with three tree icons, and it activates the wide-angle lens. Alternatively, you can use pinch-to-zoom and switch between the two lenses. Pinch your fingers together to move from standard to wide angle views.

Camera roll preview

On the right-hand side of the display are the buttons for the camera shutter release, and the video mode, plus a preview of the last photo taken. On the far left-hand side of the screen, thanks to the 18:9 aspect ratio display, there’s a vertical preview of the last four photos taken, which can also be scrolled through with a swipe. It’s a handy alternative to jumping out of the camera app and into the Gallery app. If you feel this makes the screen look too busy, you can turn off the preview. This is found by tapping the Settings cog icon, and toggling the switch for Camera Roll.

Settings and manual mode

While you’re under Settings, it’s here that the HDR mode can be force activated, the resolution for photos and video selected, along with handy features such as a grid for the viewfinder — activate this to make composing shots easier — and geolocation tagging for your pictures. In the interests of privacy, we’d suggest turning the latter off.

More: Feel fly like a G6 with these handy tips and tricks

The G6’s camera defaults to auto mode, but if you want to experiment with manual mode — where you can adjust many aspects of the camera — tap the Auto button on the left-hand side of the screen, and select Manual. There are two manual modes, one for the still camera and another for video. Also found in this menu is a mode for taking square, 1:1 ratio pictures, for easy sharing on apps like Instagram.

Panorama, Food, Popout, and other modes

Other camera modes can be found by tapping the Mode button on the left-hand side of the screen. A basic panorama mode is accompanied with a 360-degree panorama mode, and an enhanced image mode for taking pictures of food. More unusually, there’s LG’s Popout, which produces psychedelic images with different effects, by splitting the image into separate areas. Give it a try, it’s a very unusual look.

Also on the left hand side of the screen is a filter button, which looks like three overlaid circles. Tap this and choose from nine different effects, which handily show up live on the viewfinder. The filter icon on the left is shown in color when a filter is active, so you won’t forget about it.


Flip the camera around using the button on the left of the camera viewfinder, or simply swipe up or down the screen for the same result. The front camera on the G6 also has a wide-angle mode, and it’s activated in the same way as the rear camera, except the icons have little images of people instead of trees. Be careful when in wide-angle mode, it’s easy for a finger or your palm to invade the shot if you hold the phone in an awkward way.

There are three new modes available when shooting selfies, which are adjusted using buttons running down the right hand side of the viewfinder. They’re labeled Filter, Lighting, and Skin Tone. The filters adjust the look of the entire scene, and are shown live on the screen, just like with the rear camera. Lighting and Skin Tone only affects your face, acting like a beauty mode. Mess around with both using the on-screen slider controls to get the look that suits you best.


When viewing photos in the LG G6’s gallery, there’s an Edit button at the bottom of the screen, which unusually doesn’t open LG’s own image editing suite, but Google Photos. If it doesn’t do the job, consider installing an app such as Snapseed, which will then appear in the options when you tap the Edit button.

Square Camera

Square Camera makes clever use of the G6’s 18:9 (or 2:1) aspect ratio screen, by splitting the camera view into two perfect squares, and using each one differently. If you’re looking for a Square Camera app and can’t find it, don’t panic, it’s actually a widget and may have been hidden away on your phone. To get it working, hold down an empty area of home screen until you get a helicopter view of all your apps and screens, then select widgets from the menu running across the bottom of the screen. Scroll through the widgets available until you find Square Camera, then tap it to add it to a home screen.

More: Huawei P10 vs. LG G6: Battle of the big-brand flagships

Holding the phone in portrait here, the same method for switching between front and rear cameras applies: A swipe or a tap of the button. Also, the wide-angle mode is activated in the same way, along with the majority of controls for taking a picture. Tap the Square button in the top right to select manual mode for video or stills, and the filter button for live filter effects. To find Square Camera’s special modes, tap the Mode button along the top of the screen. There are four, and if you’re unsure which one to choose, tap the Question mark icon for a quick introduction.

Here’s how to get the best from them.

Snap Shot

This is Square Camera at its most basic. The viewfinder is in the top square, and when you take a photo, a preview appears in the lower square. There’s a quick delete button, or if you drag the social button — it usually defaults to a Facebook icon — across the screen, you can share it on your choice of social network, without jumping out the app.

Match Shot

Match Shot takes two shots in quick succession of each other, and presents them side-by-side. These shots can both be from the same camera, or one from the front and the other from the rear, or be video rather than stills. It’s controlled using the icon that shows two boxes over each other, with the numbers 1 or 2 inside.

When the icon shows 1 and 2, you can take two pictures at different times. When it shows 1 and 1, two photos are taken at the same time. Alternatively, look for the Gallery icon when shooting in 1/2 mode, and choose an image from the phone’s gallery to insert into one of the squares.

Guide Shot

A fast, easy way to take a photo with the same composition as another. This is a little confusing to use at first, but it’s easy once you get the hang of it. Like the G6’s other camera modes, the viewfinder appears in the top square, and all the usual modes and features apply, including switching lenses and from the front and rear camera.

The lower square shows previews of other shots you’ve taken, or some standard ones included by LG. These confuse the situation, and if you want to remove them from the preview screen, long press and select Delete. Look for the big square with a “+” in it and tap it, then choose Take Photo, and snap away. The result will appear as a new Guide Shot for use later on. Tap it to select it, the use the transparency slider to adjust how much the ghost image shows on the viewfinder. Using this, you can compose the same shot over and over, in many different situations.

More: We tried (and ranked) every smartphone at MWC, the largest mobile show of the year

In our tests, the simpler the composition, the easier it is to align the two images. Try anything too busy, and it gets very hard to match the two together.

Grid Shot

The final Square Camera mode may be the most fun. The lower square is split into four, each ready to be filled with either a still image or a 3-second video. Tap in square number one and take a photo. It should appear in the square, and automatically move on to square number two. To take a video here, and watch for the 3-second countdown in the top right of the viewfinder to help compose the clip. Add a still or video to squares three and four to complete your collage. If you want to retake one image, just tap on it again.

Our advice here is to think about the order before you start taking the shots, because you can’t rearrange them later on. It’s fun to make little stories with Grid Shot, and they’re easily shared on Facebook and Twitter, when the video clips play automatically in the post.


When you take shots in Square Camera, they can all be seen in the standard LG Gallery app. Open it and tap the icon that looks like three stacked lines in the top left of the screen. Look down the list and find Camera Mode, then tap it. Each Square Camera mode gets its own album.

That’s it, we hope you enjoy using the LG G6 and its superb wide-angle camera — both front and back.

Otonomo raises $25M to help automakers make money from connected cars

It’s no secret that data is the hot new revenue source for automakers, who are seeing additional profit opportunities bloom as vehicles become more connected and they can retrieve a ton of useful data that’s incredibly valuable when deployed correctly. Israeli startup otonomo has been on top of that trend since its founding in 2015, with nine automakers worldwide using its platform to feed a marketplace that connects car makers and drivers with service providers, optimizing the monetization of that data.

Otonomo just raised a new $25 million Series B funding round, provided by strategic investors and led by leading automotive supplier Delphi. The round also included participation from existing investors, including Bessemer Venture Partners, StageOne Ventures and Maniv Mobility, and will be used to help otonomo accelerate the pace of its global expansion plans.

The company now has $40 million in total funding, including investment from leading VCs and former vice-chairman of GM Steve Girsky. The company’s ability to land funding and partners, including Daimler, the only one of its nine automaker clients it can reveal publicly right now, is down to the growing appetite for driving data, according to otonomo CEO and co-founder Ben Volkow.

“There are more and more connected cars out there, and those connected cars are sending a lot of data in the background all the time to big databases the car manufacturers have built,” Volkow explained. “They send the data between every minute to every three or four minutes depending on the model, and also when you start the car, when you park the car or when you have an event.”

All this data is valuable to car makers, for their own use in developing new vehicles, services and technologies. But it’s also an additional cost load to bear.

“It costs a lot of money for the OEs; putting the modem in the car is like $100, then you have to pay AT&T about $5 per month to get the data out, then it’s about $1 to store the data,” Volkow said. “So we started talking to the car companies and they’re telling us ‘Connectivity, it’s a thing – show us the money.’ That’s what we do: We want to move from the age of data mobilization, to the age of data monetization.”

Otonomo’s platform is a cloud solution, with nothing additional required in the car, that connects on one side to the databases of the car manufacturers, and on the other to different services and applications that want this data. This group of customers including insurance companies, smart cities, workshops, dealerships, developers, and even hedge funds – “everybody wants car data,” as Volkow puts it.

Basically, the startup is helping car companies build new business from the data, and that’s become a very lucrative proposition. It helps that selling data is around 100 percent margin, Volkow notes, while selling actual cars is a single digit margin game.

Some examples of how services can use car data to supplement their own businesses include insurance companies sending out tow trucks. If they can instead identify a problem in advance and send a message to the driver, they’ll save the cost of that truck dispatch. Likewise, you can identify issues in the road early for maintenance by analyzing driving data in the aggregate, avoiding more costly infrastructure repairs.

But how does otonomo handle privacy? Volkow says there are a lot of regulations around use of this data coming, and otonomo is proactive about working with them. He says his company makes sure in advance that the automakers are in compliance with local regulations, and that they also factor in the rules set out by car makers, the rules set out by app makers and service providers, and the permissions agreed to by drivers and tell the OEMs what they can safely do.

Regulation and increased restrictions around use of data might be otonomo’s biggest prospective roadblock, but even with tighter controls it seems likely automotive data will remain a boom industry for the foreseeable future, on both sides of the marketplace. Key, longtime industry leaders like Delphi recognize this opportunity and its growing worth, which is why its participation in this round is a strong endorsement of otonomo’s model.

Equity podcast: Lyft’s new anti-Uber warchest, and Gene Munster on IPOs and Apple

Welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the financial side of technology.

This week Katie Roof, Matthew Lynley and your servant sat down with Gene Munster, best known for his bullish takes on Apple as an analyst. Munster is now a venture capitalist at Loup Ventures, where he’s a managing partner.

As a group we dug into Lyft’s new half-billion-dollar fundraise and what light it may shed on Uber’s valuation; spent just enough time to properly vet the current crop of tech IPOs — including what could be called a collective shoutout to a certain charismatic CEO; and, of course, talked through what’s new at Apple.

While Munster is a household name in tech as an analyst on the Cupertino beat, he’s got a solid take on the tech markets, which made him a more-than-welcome addition to our squad.

Equity drops every Friday at 6:00 a.m. PT, so subscribe to us on iTunes, Overcast, Pocketcast, Downcast and all the casts.

Editor’s note: Alex Wilhelm is the editor-in-chief of Crunchbase News.

Inside the renegade Republican movement for tackling climate change

When Alex Bozmoski was in college, he didn’t believe climate change was real. He was “a very active conservative Republican,” he says, who “loved making noise.” In high school, he started a newspaper called The Right Idea; the logo was an eagle gripping a Christian cross. And at Georgetown University, after George W. Bush won the election in 2004, he carried a cardboard cutout of the president around campus until he was tackled by a liberal student and Bush was broken in half.

So when Bozmoski enrolled in a climate science class taught by Nathan Hultman, his primary goal was to heckle the professor. But every time he brought up something he had heard on a conservative radio talk show, Hultman asked him to back up those claims with actual scientific evidence. Soon, Bozmoski realized climate skepticism was unfounded, and that climate change is a very serious issue that his own political party was completely ignoring.

“I felt alienated that my tribe has been so out of the loop and not even working on it,” Bozmoski says. “To me, it seemed like just an easy way out, like a coping mechanism more than a governing strategy.”

So a few years after his college graduation, Bozmoski began traveling around the country, speaking to conservatives about climate change and free-market options to tackle it. He visited church groups, federalist societies, chambers of commerce, universities — alone or together with Bob Inglis, a former Republican congressman who introduced a bill to tax carbon emissions. (Inglis’ views on climate change cost him his House seat in 2010.) As Bozmoski did more of these talks, he says, “it became pretty clear that when people heard from us, a lot of conservatives were very motivated to get involved.”

In 2014, Bozmoski and Inglis founded republicEn, a group of about 3,000 people all over the US trying to create a grassroots movement of “conservative climate realists.” “We want to give them a voice,” Bozmoski says. “We want members of Congress to see that big chunks of their conservative constituents are deeply passionate about the environment and care deeply about taking responsible action to mitigate and adapt to climate change.”

It’s not just Bozmoski and Inglis — or even just their group. Around the US, conservative leaders and organizations are trying to get people on the right involved in conservation, renewable energy, and climate change action. They do it by appealing to whatever it is these constituents care about: economic growth, hunting wildlife, or national security. The goal is making sure the US is prepared to tackle one of the most serious challenges facing our country and our planet — global warming.

Some in the GOP are taking notice. In February, a group of Republican elder statesmen released a proposal to tax carbon emissions produced by burning fossil fuels. And in March, a group of more than a dozen GOP lawmakers introduced a climate change resolution to the House of Representatives, calling for action against the looming threat of rising sea levels and warming temperatures. “It’s important that we take climate change very, very seriously because the threats that are posed by that are very serious,” Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL), who signed the resolution, told The Atlantic. “I’m just not a person that believes we should be turning a blind eye to it.”

Unfortunately, many other Republicans are turning a blind eye to it. The GOP has a track record of opposing environmental regulation and a party platform that supports burning fossil fuels. Certain Republican members of Congress don’t even believe that global warming is caused by human activity. (It is, according to the vastest majority of scientists.) At the same time, Republican president Donald Trump, who called climate change a “hoax,” ran a campaign on the promise to bring back highly polluting coal. Last week, he signed an executive order to start dismantling the cornerstone of President Barack Obama’s environmental legacy. And his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, is a known climate change denier.

The GOP’s stance is at odds with what many Republicans feel. A poll from last year showed that 71 percent of liberal / moderate Republicans and 47 percent of conservative Republicans believe that our planet is warming — and that number is increasing. (The percentage of conservative Republicans who believe in climate change has jumped 19 percentage points since 2014, more than any other group.) The majority of Republicans also support more funding for energy sources like wind and solar, and believe heat-trapping pollutants like carbon dioxide should be regulated.

So why are Republican lawmakers looking the other way when it comes to global warming? They don’t live in Miami, says the city’s mayor Tomás Regalado, a member of the Republican Party. Residents there experience regular flooding from rising sea levels, and certain banks are very hesitant about granting loans for mortgages for 30 years, he says. “This is a real issue that people have experienced here,” Regalado says. “We have a problem, and [Republicans] have to recognize that this is not only a philosophical debate, it’s a real economic issue.”

The next town over, called Coral Gables, is facing similar problems. Streets and parks are flooded during high tides. “You look out your door, you see an octopus in your basement … or the mullets swimming around our parking lots, you get it,” says Mayor Jim Cason, also a member of the Republican Party. Cason isn’t waiting for Washington to step in — his administration has already been working on a sustainability plan for the town, and is updating building codes to increase the height of the most vulnerable facilities when they need repairs. But when I ask him whether he’s doing all this because his constituents are worried about climate change, and demanding action, Cason says residents actually aren’t expressing much concern. “Basically silence,” he says.

Bozmoski believes that’s exactly why Republican lawmakers aren’t acting on climate change. “I think the answer boils down to one phrase that we hear over and over from members of Congress: ‘My constituents rarely call me about climate change. I rarely get phone calls about this. It is not on the mind of our constituents,’” Bozmoski says. It’s also true that the fossil fuel industry overwhelmingly gives campaign donations to Republicans rather than Democrats. But in poll after poll, climate change does seem to be at the bottom of the list when Americans wonder what to worry about. And for conservatives, “it’s not a national movement right now,” Bozmoski says. So that’s the movement he’s working to create.

He travels around the country, telling people about global warming and republicEn’s free-market vision for tacking it: no to subsidizing renewables; yes to a carbon tax; no to American export taxes; yes to government’s investment in basic research to find new forms of energy. To energize this still-infant grassroots movement — “we’re a scrappy bunch” — Bozmoski also talks about the science of climate change. If you don’t believe in the science, you’re out. “Moving past the science is not how we’re going to deal with this,” Bozmoski says. “The climate science is so central to the urgency of action that you can’t lose it and not lose the urgency.”

Other conservative groups, however, try to steer away from talking directly about climate change. “With older conservatives, if you say anything about climate, they immediately shut you down,” says Michele Combs, the founder and chair of Young Conservatives for Energy Reform. “The younger generation do not feel that way; they grew up recycling. It doesn’t have that stigma.” So Combs approaches the problem from another angle: energy reform. Her group, which counts 100,000 members, hopes to sway the national discourse over energy policy, by encouraging the use of renewable energy. To help conservatives embrace renewables, she often invites retired military generals to speak at her events.

The US Army has been vocal about wanting to boost clean energy. The advantage is twofold: US troops who rely less on oil can spend less time convoying that oil in foreign countries and risking to be blown up; and reducing greenhouse gases is paramount for addressing climate change, which the military sees as a serious national security threat. (Rising sea levels and more extreme weather events will lead to a more unstable, conflict-prone world, according to a Defense Department report.) When these respected military leaders speak to conservatives, it generally works, says Brian Smith, who used to work on renewable energy for the Defense Department and now volunteers at Young Conservatives for Energy Reform. “I think it resonates with most people,” he says.

Combs says that climate change action is not the end goal of her group, but more of a side effect. “We come in with the clean energy, because cleaner energy is going to take care of the problem,” she says. A similar approach — when it comes to conservation — is taken by some conservative groups like Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. The sportsmen’s organization focuses on preserving wildlife habitats, and protecting clean air and water on public lands, but it doesn’t address climate change directly. Conservation is what hunters have been doing for more than 150 years, says Land Tawney, the president and CEO of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, it resonates with hunters much more than a politicized term like climate change.

The group works for keeping public access to public lands, so they’re not sold for private development. It also advocates for oil and gas development to be done in a safe way, so that core habitats and migration routes are kept pristine. If animals can move more freely and expand their ranges, they will be able to better adapt to warming climates, by moving to higher latitudes for example. This is, of course, just a step toward addressing climate change. “All the conservation work that we’re doing has an effect on that,” Tawney says. “You’re really still working on it but you’re not directly working on it.”

That’s not how all hunters approach climate change. Randy Newberg, a hunter and advocate for hunting on public lands, has no qualms about acknowledging the problem. “If you spend as much time in the hills as I do, I don’t know how you could deny that climate is changing,” he says. Deniers exist, “but honestly, I call them the flat-Earth society,” he adds. Many hunters see climate change as a serious threat to the wildlife and public lands they want to protect for future generations. That’s what’s been driving the conservation movement for decades in the US, and it should not be a liberal or a conservative issues, says Newberg, who identifies as an Independent. “Maybe I’m naive and too idealistic for today’s political world,” he says, “but I struggle to understand how is it that clean air and clean water and productive lands are a partisan issue. To me, they’re an American issue.”

For now, the White House hasn’t been very responsive, but it might be just too early to tell, says Bozmoski. Some proposals coming out of Washington — like the carbon tax and the climate change resolution — seem to bode well. “It really stokes our optimism on the Eco Right, that our family has gotten bigger and more powerful,” Bozmoski says. At the same time, he says, it will take time for Republicans to come together and put forward a climate change policy — they will need to get over the divisions within their own party and develop an actual policy. That’s what groups like republicEn are there for, Bozmoski says. And he has high hopes. “The prospects for a coalition of lawmakers moving forward with a solution is better now than it has been in any point since 2010,” Bozmoski says. “There’s no more pussyfooting around climate change out of fear.”

Review: Weber Genesis II LX Grill

18301001A 2016 Weber Summit Charcoal Black Product

Jeff the Weber grill rep arrived, huffing and puffing at the top of the steps as he introduced himself. His wife Jill looked on worriedly from the door, beyond which lay their big, white delivery van.

“I don’t think it’ll fit,” Jill said. “That grill’s big.” This was an understatement. Once we hauled it up the stairs and shimmied it through the front door, I had to pop a sliding glass door out of its track to get the grill out to the back deck.