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Silca Viaggio travel pump review: High end smartphone-connected bike floor pump keeps commuters safe

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There seems to be applications today for just about every task you can think of and over the last few weeks I have come to appreciate a simple app and piece of gear that is essential to cycling. A bike pump is an essential piece of kit for bikers and when you are traveling 15 to 20 miles an hour on a bike it is important to have proper inflation on your tires.

I didn’t think much about using a connected bike pump, but then the folks at Echos Communications sent along a Silca Viaggio travel pump and it is clear that a high quality pump can provide a safe and efficient cycling experience. I’ve also struggled with very small portable pumps, but this model is less portable while offering the stability and capability to pump up your tires faster in a sleeker profile than most standing floor pumps.

My daily commute consists of biking just over three miles to the train station, riding the train to Seattle, and then walking a mile to the office. Cycling six and half miles is pretty quick and easy thanks to the RadCity electric bike I’ve been riding for almost two years. It took a while, but I’ve experienced three flat tires over the last month. I was able to use a bit of tech and my phone to help fix those.

Also: RadCity electric commuter bike review: Affordable, urban, green, and just plain fun

Specifications

  • iGauge compatible Bluetooth® enabled pressure sensor
  • Premium 731 leather gasket
  • Brass check valve assembly
  • Detachable handle + folding feet support
  • Schrader chuck + HIRO locking Presta chuck with a magnetic dock
  • Weight: 2.95lbs/1.34kg, Length: 57cm, Max PSI: 220

Hardware

The Silca Viaggio Travel Pump comes in a cylindrical cardboard container and is wrapped in a waxed-canvas tool roll. I was expecting a much more portable pump, but the pump and tool roll is still small enough to travel with you on an extended trip. I could fit into my pannier on my RadCity and it works so well, I may just carry it on my daily commute.

The barrel of the pump is shiny silver made of 6061 aluminum material. In order to manipulate the pump, you first slide off the thick aluminum handle mounted along one side and the slide it onto the piston at the top of the pump. It is very well constructed and should last you for years.

Two feet fold down and lock into place so you can stand on the pump feet and keep it secure to the ground. There is a twist lock plastic cover at the bottom of the pump that houses a coin cell battery to power the Bluetooth radio.

The rubber air hose extends the length of the pump and then back down for a total hose length of greater than three feet. This means you can easily route the hose and chuck to your bike and stand back to pump the tire with your connected phone.

A very high quality HIRO locking Presta chuck is installed at the end of the hose with a Schrader end that secures to your tube. Everything about this pump is well designed and built to last.

Smartphone software

The iGauge software is available for iOS and Android. It is a universal piece of software that works with a variety of compatible pumps. The gauge numbers are huge and take up about a quarter of my phone display.

Hook up the pump and start adding air to the tire to activate the Bluetooth transceiver. Once more than 6 psi is in the tire, data will be transmitted to iGauge. The default is psi, but you can also tap to view the pressure in bars if you desire.

Silca states that the software gauge is accurate to within 0.5 psi, which is much better than the 5+ psi I usually accept with my manual gauges. There are some other settings in the software, but I haven’t found details on how to use those features and just rely on iGauge for the pressure reading.

Also: RadCity electric commuter bike review: Affordable, urban, green, and just plain fun

Experiences and conclusions

The Viaggio Travel Pump is available now for $275, but if biking in an essential part of your daily commute or exercise routine then it may be worth the price. Having one at the office to help your employees keep their bike tires properly inflated is also something to consider. We have 50 percent of our engineering office biking to work during the summer months.

After my first tire went flat, I searched inside it and found a couple of blackberry thorns in the side wall. I removed them, replaced the tube, and then put some green Slime tube sealant inside it. I inflated the tube using a floor bike pump that has a gauge on the pump. I was watching the pressure on the pump and had plenty of capacity, or so I thought, when the tube blew up and green Slime went all over me and the garage. It just happened that my wife was in the garage at the time and was not impressed with my bike repair skills.

Thankfully, I had another spare tube so I put that on and went through the same routine, but checked the pressure with my dedicated gauge. This worked fine, but I had to bounce back and forth between the gauge and the pump to achieve proper tire pressure and have been satisfied with a 5-10 psi range. That tire also went flat about a week later with a sharp rock embedded into the tube and tire. The Slime worked, but the rock kept opening up the hole and slowly leaking air.

The Viaggio Travel Pump arrived after the second flat so I put it to the test. The Viaggio pump has a Schrader valve, which is what I have on the tubes of my electric and standard bikes. I installed the iGauge software and tried using the pump with nothing appearing on my phone. I deflated the tire and tried again, with no progress. I tried an Android phone and that didn’t work either. I pulled things apart and realized there was a clear plastic insert in the coin cell battery found at the bottom of the pump so I removed that and was off and running.

The iGauge software has a large, easily readable electronic gauge so you can easily see the level of what you are pumping. At first I had a bit of air leaking out when I attached the chuck. I watched the video and adjusted the preload of the gasket and no more air came out when I used the pump. I confidently inflated my new tube and then checked the tire pressure in the three other bikes in the family.

The Silca Viaggio Travel Pump is a very high quality product that helps you inflate your tire to the correct pressure. It folds up well and fits nicely in the included waxed-canvas tool roll. There are plenty of open slots for your other bike tools too.

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Snap had its best quarter in four years – TechCrunch

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If you’ve started using Snapchat more regularly this year, you’re not alone. At yesterday’s Q2 earnings call, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel announced that the platform grew both revenue and daily active users at the highest rates it has achieved in the last four years. Snapchat now has 293 million daily active users, growing 23% since last year.

Snap went public in 2017 with a $24 billion valuation, but not long before then, the ephemeral photo sharing app experienced a massive hiccup: Instagram cloned their then-unique Stories feature. After Instagram Stories launched, Snapchat’s growth slowed by 82%. Then, when Snapchat redesigned its app’s interface, Kylie Jenner tweeted that she didn’t use the app anymore, causing the company’s valuation to drop by $1.2 billion.

But Snapchat held on and made a comeback. Its revenue reached an all-time high of $911 million in Q4 of 2020, then went down to $770 million the following quarter. Now, Snapchat’s revenue in Q2 of 2021 surpasses its previous high to reach $982 million.

The app’s Q2 growth could be attributed to the return of advertisers who scaled back their spending during the height of the pandemic, as well as the retention of users that flocked to the app while in lockdown. Like many social media platforms, Snapchat grew its revenue and user base during the pandemic, but this isn’t just a matter of re-engaging users with an app that they grew out of. As TikTok exploded on the scene and the creator economy boomed, Snapchat kept up by creating Spotlight, a TikTok clone, and investing in the applications of augmented reality.

“We made significant progress with our augmented reality platform this quarter,” Spiegel said. “More than 200 million Snapchatters engage with AR every day on average, and over 200,000 creators use Lens Studio to build AR Lenses for our community.”

Last month, Snapchat went viral for its Cartoon 3D Style Lens, which makes you look like a character in a Pixar movie. Spiegel specifically mentioned this lens as a feature that “highlighted the power of Lenses to go viral both inside and outside of Snapchat.” But beyond fun face filters, Snapchat has been using AR to woo e-commerce partners. The app has developed AR experiences for Walt Disney World, Smile Direct Club, Zenni Optical, e.l.f. Cosmetics, Ralph Lauren and more. This includes try-on capabilities for watches, jewelry, eyewear, handbags, makeup and even clothing. At its Partner Summit in May, Snapchat revealed an update that lets users scan friends’ outfits to find shopping recommendations for similar styles.

“We have a lot more work ahead to build out our technology and increase AR adoption, but we are thrilled with the results that our partners are seeing as we invest in our long-term camera opportunity,” said Jeremi Gorman, Snap’s chief business officer. “We are confident in our long-term opportunity, and are excited to double down on shopping and commerce via augmented reality.”

In March, Snap acquired Fit Analytics, a Berlin-based startup that helps shoppers find the right-sized apparel and footwear when shopping online. Combined with Snap’s investment in AR, could we eventually use AR to see which size of clothing to order? The application of that sort of technology would need to be handled sensitively, especially as the rates of eating disorders in teens are on the rise.

Beyond e-commerce, Snapchat has sought out strategic partnerships with entertainment companies like HBO Max and Universal Music Group and doubled down on its Spectacles, glasses that create AR experiences. Of course, Facebook is working on AR glasses too. But for both companies, Snap’s recent successes show the rising adoption and value of AR experiences.

 

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Jack Dorsey says bitcoin will be a big part of Twitter’s future – TechCrunch

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Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey confirmed to investors that bitcoin will be a “big part” of the company’s future, as he sees opportunities to integrate the cryptocurrency into existing Twitter products and services, including commerce, subscriptions and other new additions like the Twitter Tip Jar and Super Follows.

Dorsey has been a staunch bitcoin advocate for years, but how it would be put into action on Twitter’s platform had not yet been spelled out in detail. However, Dorsey has often publicly touted the cryptocurrency, saying it reminds him of the “early days of the internet” and that there wasn’t “anything more important” in his lifetime for him to work on.

More recently, Dorsey launched a $23.6 million bitcoin fund with Jay Z and announced plans to lead his other company Square into the decentralized financial services market by way of bitcoin. Square also this year acquired a majority stake in Jay-Z’s TIDAL music service with an eye toward how blockchain technologies and cryptocurrencies could change the music business.

Today, Dorsey also dubbed bitcoin one of three key trends for Twitter’s future, along with AI and decentralization — the latter which Twitter is pursuing through its “Bluesky” initiative.

He touted bitcoin to investors on Twitter’s second quarter earnings call, saying it could help the company move faster in terms of its product expansions, while explaining that it was the “best candidate” to become the “native currency” of the internet. (Incidentally, Square’s $50 million in bitcoin purchased in 2020 was worth $253 million by February 2021, and it purchased $170 million more earlier this year.)

“If the internet has a native currency, a global currency, we are able to able to move so much faster with products such as Super Follows, Commerce, Subscriptions, Tip Jar, and we can reach every single person on the planet because of that instead of going down a market-by-market-by-market approach,” Dorsey explained. “I think this is a big part of our future. I think there is a lot of innovation above just currency to be had, especially as we think about decentralizing social media more and providing more economic incentive. So I think it’s hugely important to Twitter and to Twitter shareholders that we continue to look at the space and invest aggressively in it,” he added.

A Twitter rep confirmed this is the first time that Dorsey has spoken publicly about how Twitter could integrate bitcoin into its product lineup.

Dorsey also pointed out Twitter would not be alone in pursuing a crypto strategy, noting that Facebook was backing the digital currency Diem.

“There’s an obvious need for this, and appreciation for it. And I think that an open standard that’s native to the internet is the right way to go, which is why my focus and our focus eventually will be on bitcoin,” he noted.

Overall, Twitter delivered strong earnings in a pandemic rebound, which saw the company posting its fastest revenue growth since 2014, according to CNBC, which drove Twitter shares 9% higher in extended trading. The company pulled in Q2 revenue of $1.19 billion versus the $1.07 billion Wall Street expected, a majority ($1.05 billion) from its advertising business. It also saw earnings per share of 20 cents versus the 7 cents expected.

However, monetizable daily active users (mDAUs) — Twitter’s own invented metric meant to fluff up often flat monthly user growth — were only at 206 million, an 11% year-over-year increase, while analysts were counting on 206.2 million. The company blamed the decline on a slower news cycle and end of shelter-in-place in many U.S. communities, which may have impacted Twitter usage during the quarter.

 

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Tumblr users lash out against its beta subscription feature – TechCrunch

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The Tumblr community often refers to itself as the Wild West of the internet, and they’re not wrong. A text post with over 70,000 notes puts it best: “Tumblr is my favorite social media site because this place is literally uninhabitable for celebrities. No verification system, no algorithm that boosts their posts, it’s a completely lawless wasteland for them.”

But like any social media company, Tumblr needs to keep itself afloat in order for its users to continue sharing esoteric fan art, incomprehensible shitposts, and overly personal diary entries hidden beneath a “Read More” button. Yesterday, Tumblr announced the limited beta test of its Post+ subscription feature, which — if all goes as planned — will eventually let Tumblr users post paywalled content to subscribers that pay them $3.99, $5.99 or $9.99 per month.

Image Credits: Tumblr

Tumblr is far from the first social media platform to seek revenue this way — Twitter is rolling out Super Follows and a Tip Jar feature, and this week, YouTube announced a tipping feature too. Even Instagram is working on its own version of Twitter’s Super Follows that would let users create “exclusive stories.” But on a website with a community that prides itself as being a “completely lawless wasteland” for anyone with a platform (save for Wil Wheaton and Neil Gaiman, who are simply just vibing), the move toward paywalled content was not welcomed with open arms.

Monetization is a double-edged sword. It’s not considered uncool for a Tumblr artist to link to a third-party Patreon or Ko-fi site on their blog, where their most enthusiastic followers can access paywalled content or send them tips. So Post+ seems like an obvious way for Tumblr to generate revenue — instead of directing followers to other websites, they could build a way for fans to support creators on their own platform while taking a 5% cut. This isn’t unreasonable, considering that Twitter will take 3% revenue from its new monetization tools, while video-centric platforms like YouTube and Twitch take 30% and 50%, respectively. But Tumblr isn’t Twitter, or YouTube, or Twitch. Unlike other platforms, Tumblr doesn’t allow you to see other people’s follower counts, and no accounts are verified. It’s not as easy to tell whether the person behind a popular post has 100 followers or 100,000 followers, and the users prefer it that way. But Post+ changes that, giving bloggers an icon next to their username that resembles a Twitter blue check.

A Tumblr Post+ creator profile

Tumblr rolled out Post+ this week to a select group of hand-picked creators, including Kaijuno, a writer and astrophysicist. The platform announced Post+ on a new blog specific to this product, rather than its established staff blog, which users know to check for big announcements. So, as the most public user who was granted access, the 24-year-old blogger was the target of violent backlash from angry Tumblrites who didn’t want to see their favorite social media site turn into a hypercapitalist hellscape. When Kaijuno received death threats for beta testing Post+, Tumblr’s staff intervened and condemned harassment against Post+ users.

“We want to hear about what you like, what you love, and what concerns you. Even if it’s not very nice. Tell us. We can take it,” Tumblr wrote on its staff blog. “What we won’t ever accept is the targeted harassment and threats these creators have endured since this afternoon. […] all they’re doing is testing out a feature.”

Before making their post, a representative from Tumblr’s staff reached out to Kaijuno directly to check in on them regarding the backlash, but there’s only so much that Tumblr can do after a user has already been threatened for using their product.

“I felt like the sacrificial lamb, because they didn’t announce Post+ beforehand and only gave it to a few people, which landed me in the crosshairs of a very pissed-off user base when I’m just trying to pay off medical bills by giving people the option to pay for content,” Kaijuno told TechCrunch. “I knew there’d be some backlash because users hate any sort of change to Tumblr, but I thought that the brunt of the backlash would be at the staff, and that the beta testers would be spared from most of it.”

Why do Tumblr users perceive monetization as such a threat? It’s not a question of whether or not it’s valuable to support creators, but rather, whether Tumblr is capable of hosting such a service. Multiple long-time, avid Tumblr users that spoke to TechCrunch referenced an incident in late 2020 when people’s blogs were being hacked by spam bots that posted incessant advertisements for a Ray-Ban Summer Sale.

“Tumblr is not the most well-coded website. It’s easy to break features,” Kaijuno added. “I think anything involving trusting Tumblr with your financial information would have gotten backlash.”

Tumblr users also worried about the implications Post+ could have on privacy — in the limited beta, Post+ users only have the ability to block people who are subscribed to their blog if they contact Tumblr support. In cases of harassment by a subscriber, this could leave a blogger vulnerable in a potentially dangerous situation.

“Ahead of our launch to all U.S.-based creators this fall, Post+ will allow creators to block subscribers directly,” a Tumblr spokesperson told TechCrunch.

Still, the Extremely Online Gen Z-ers who now make up 48% of Tumblr know that they can’t expect the platform to continue existing if it doesn’t pull in enough money to pay for its staff and server fees. In 2018, Tumblr lost almost one-third of its monthly page views after all NSFW content was banned — since then, the platform’s monthly traffic has remained relatively stagnant.

Image Credits: SimilarWeb

A former Tumblr employee told TechCrunch that the feature that became Post+ started out as a Tip Jar. But higher-ups at Tumblr — who do not work directly with the community — redirected the project to create a paywalled subscription product.

“I think a Tip Jar would be a massive improvement,” said the creator behind the Tumblr blog normal-horoscopes. Through the core audience they developed on Tumblr, they make a living via Patreon, but they don’t find Post+ compelling for their business. “External services [like Patreon] have more options, more benefits, better price points, and as a creator I get to choose how I present them to my audience.”

But a paywalled subscription service is different in the collective eyes of Tumblr. For a site that thrives on fandom, creators that make fan art and fanfiction worry that placing this derivative work behind a paywall — which Post+ encourages them to do — will land them in legal trouble. Even Archive of Our Own, a major fanfiction site, prohibits its users from linking to sites like Patreon or Ko-Fi.

“Built-in monetization attracts businesses, corporate accounts, people who are generally there to make money first and provide content second,” said normal-horoscopes. “It changes the culture of a platform.”

Across Tumblr, upset users are rallying for their followers to take Post+’s feedback survey to express their frustrations. The staff welcomes this.

“As with any new product launch, we expect our users to have a healthy discussion about how the feature will change the dynamics of how people use Tumblr,” a Tumblr spokesperson told TechCrunch. “Not all of this feedback will be positive, and that’s OK. Constructive criticism fuels how we create products and ultimately makes Tumblr a better place.”

Tumblr’s vocal community has been empowered over the years to question whether it’s possible for a platform to establish new revenue streams in a way that feels organic. The protectiveness that Tumblr’s user base feels for the site — despite their lack of faith in staff — sets it apart from social media juggernauts like Facebook, which can put e-commerce front and center without much scrutiny. But even three years after the catastrophic porn ban, it seems hard for Tumblr to grow without alienating the people that make the social network unique.

Platforms like Reddit and Discord have remained afloat by selling digital goods, like coins to reward top posters, or special emojis. Each company’s financial needs are different, but Tumblr’s choice to monetize with Post+ highlights the company’s lack of insight into its own community’s wishes.

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