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Why you don’t want Tumblr sold to exploitative Pornhub – TechCrunch

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Tumblr has been squandered ever since it was bought for $1.1 billion in 2013 by Yahoo, now part of Verizon Media Group. Without proper strategy or talent, the blogging tool and early meme-sharing network fell into decline while Medium and Instagram soared. Yahoo wrote down Tumblr’s value by $230 million in 2016. Then last year, Verizon evicted Tumblr’s huge and loyal base of porn bloggers, leaving no viable platform for independent adult content creators and curators.

Now the Wall Street Journal reports that TechCrunch parent company Verizon is considering selling Tumblr.

Many immediately hoped it’d change hands to an owner who’d embrace pornography, such as social media darling Pornhub. BuzzFeed quickly reported that Pornhub VP Corey Price told it “We’re extremely interested in acquiring the platform and are very much looking forward to one day restoring it to its former glory with NSFW content.”

But given Pornhub parent company MindGeek’s record of exploitation of adult performers, that could be a disastrous proceeding for the world of kink.

Outside of Pornhub, MindGeek owns many of the top porn streaming sites like YouPorn, RedTube, and GayTube. Widespread piracy of porn films by those sites has made it tough for performers to earn a living. Many smaller studios or performers don’t have the legal or financial resources to file constant copyright infringement takedown notices, and MindGeek’s sites have been accused of allow re-uploads of videos days after taking them down.

The truly insidious part is that MindGeek has also bought up a bunch of the top porn production studios including Brazzers, Babes.com, and Digital Playground. MindGeek has been accused of allowing those studios’ films to be pirated by its own streaming sites. That lets MindGeek earn and keep streaming ad revenue without giving performers a proper cut.

The result has been a massive decline in the wages of porn performers and the number of films being made. This is turn pushes performers into more rough and extreme porn genres they’re not comfortable with, or into other sex work like prostitution that can be dangerous. We reached out to Verizon Media Group which told us “we don’t comment on rumors”, and we’re awaiting comment on piracy issues from MindGeek.

If Pornhub and MindGeek succeed in acquiring Tumblr to strengthen their near monopoly, they could end up exploiting porn bloggers and the performers they post about too. You could imagine the photos and GIFs in diverse porn genres that populated Tumblr getting scraped and shared across MindGeek’s network of sites beyond the bloggers’ or performers’ control. Or Tumblr’s porn blogs could be used to funnel traffic towards MindGeek’s crooked streaming sites, exacerbating the piracy problem. A more optimistic view is would be that Pornhub’s newer features that let performers set up their own paywalls could help Tumblr curators earn money for themselves…and MindGeek. If Pornhub managed to turn Tumblr around, it would deal a stern lesson to platforms that were quick to ban adult content.

Since many of the puritanical US government’s elected officials likely see porn performers as godless heathens undeserving of protection, they’re unlikely to try to safeguard the profession with anti-trust or fair payout regulation. The SESTA-FOSTA law that went into effect last year intending to stop sex trafficking ended up pushing sites like Tumblr, Facebook, and Patreon towards tougher crack downs on porn, nudity, or even innocent discussions about sex within support communities for LGTBQ people and other underprivileged minorities.

Unfortunately, MindGeek’s massive footprint means it might be willing to bid the highest price for Tumblr. If Verizon does sell Tumblr, it should seek a buyer with an upstanding record for how it treats creators. But Verizon could also modernize Tumblr to emphasize what’s differentiated about it in today’s tech landscape versus when it was founded in 2007. Obviously, it could reopen to porn. But there are also family friendly opportunities.

Tumblr was one of the first big meme-sharing communities, even spawning its own format of screenshots of progressively crazier replies to a short text post. Yet in 2019, the top meme networks like Instagram, Reddit, and Imgur aren’t actually built for distributing massive ‘dumps’ of memes. They don’t understand which you’ve already seen to prevent showing re-runs, or how remixes of an original meme all relate and should be linked. Tumblr could build meme-specific features that give users more curational power than Reddit and Imgur, but more freedom of expression under less pressure than Instagram.

Tumblr could also be repurposed into a “your Internet homepage” platform. Most social networks are so desperate to keep users on their apps that they restrict or deemphasize the ability to promote your other web presences. They also often focus on a narrow set of content types like photos and videos on Instagram. This leaves users who don’t have their own dedicated websites without a central hub where they can freely express their identity and link to profiles elsewhere. This is a huge opportunity for Tumblr, which has already established itself an open-ended self-expression platform open to a variety of content formats.

AOL, which was combined with Yahoo to form the Verizon Media Group, previously owned a web profile platform called About.me, but sold it back to its creator Tony Conrad in 2013. Tumblr could assume much of About.me’s functionality as a directory of someone’s presences on other apps, and add that to its blogging platform. Instead of being locked into Instagram and Pinterest’s grids and standardized designs, Tumblr could let people create a homepage collage representing their prismatic identities.

Tumblr’s already been waning in popularity for years, so Verizon might not have a lot to lose by giving Tumblr a year to execute on this strategy before selling it for surely much less than it bought it for in 2013. Tumblr’s remaining users deserve better than the platform fading into nothing or being sold to the unscrupulous.

If any pornography industry professionals want to weigh in, please contact this article’s author Josh Constine via phone/text or Signal encrypted messenger at (585)750-5674 or joshc ‘at’ techcrunch dot com.

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Bluetti AC200P Power Station Review

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When it comes to batteries, you almost always have to make a compromise between power and size. That’s more true with portable batteries where mobility plays a more critical role. There are times, however, when the reverse is true and charging power becomes the deciding factor. The latter is true for Maxoak’s newest portable power station, the 2000Wh Bluetti AC200P, which uses the term “portable” very loosely, at least in comparison to other portable power stations. In exchange, however, you won’t have to make that many compromises in what or how many you can juice up with it.

Design

This thing is huge, no doubt about that. Of course, that may be expected if you noticed the “2000W” or “2000Wh” label that the Bluetti AC200P comes with. This is twice the capacity of the Jackery Explorer 1000, for example, but also has more than twice the features and output options.

At 16.5 x 11 x 15.2 inches and weighing 60.6 lbs, almost 27.5kg, the Bluetti AC200P is barely portable. Sure, you can still carry it with some effort, but it’s meant more to be carried to its final location rather than carried around everywhere. As if to emphasize that nature, There are no carrying handles on top, just handlebars at the sides.

The power station’s design is clean and utilitarian, with all the action happening only on the front side. That includes the LCD touch screen that not only shows battery stats but also lets you control some settings. Unfortunately, that screen is easily defeated by bright outdoor light, like the sun, for example. The top, as mentioned, is bereft of any carrying handles or any structure for that matter, leaving the surface clear and flat for the wireless charging areas.

Power

Power is the defining trait of the Bluetti AC200P and that comes via the 2000Wh battery inside as well as the High 2000W AC inverter. With the plethora of output options available, the power station makes short work of mobile devices, easily charging them hundreds of times if really needed.

It can also handle small appliances, including mini-fridges, something more portable power stations can only dream of.

The Bluetti AC200P also offers a variety of charging options for the battery itself, with solar charging advertised as the best method in both efficiency and economy. That said, that requires a separate purchase and a 400W wall charger will have to do.

You can also charge via a car charging cable and the Maxoak packages all needed cables, amusingly even the Solar Charging Cable.

It also bears noting that the Bluetti AC200P uses Lithium Iron Phosphate, a.k.a. LifePO4. This is the very same kind of battery used in electric vehicles for its reliability, safety, and long lifetimes even under higher temperatures.

Of course, the power station does have fans to keep things cool but they are pretty silent so you won’t have to worry about disturbing neighbors.

Output

All that power would go to waste, however, if the portable power station didn’t allow users to take advantage of it. Fortunately, the Bluetti AC200P is all about that but, unfortunately, this is also where it makes a few compromises, too.

The highlight, of course, are the six AC outlets available for anything, from that mini-fridge to that laptop that still doesn’t support USB-C charging, as long as they are OK sharing that 2000W output. There are two 12V/3.0A DC ports to complement it, a lone 12V/25A DC port, and a 12V/10A DC car charger port.

For mobile devices, you have four 5V/3A full-sized USB-A ports, none of which support any fast charging technology, like Qualcomm’s Quick Charge.

You’ll have to make do with the single USB-C charger that does output up to 60W of power, good enough for some lighter laptops. Other laptops, however, might trickle charge only at that rate and might be better off using the AC outlets instead.

Last but not the least, the Bluetti AC200P also offers two wireless charging pads capable of a shared 15W of power output. You’ll have to keep that in mind when using both at the same time. Unfortunately, placing devices can be a bit tricky as you have to really hit that small area where the charging coil is located underneath.

Wrap-up

With a 2000Wh LifePO4 battery and a total of 17 charging output options, the Bluetti AC200P 2000Wh Portable Power Station definitely exudes power and does its name justice.

It’s not without costs, of course, primarily the size and weight of the box, but it makes up for that in versatility. Then there’s also the $1,999.99 price tag that some might balk at. It is clearly a tool designed to meet a specific need and, fortunately, it does impress when it comes to meeting that need.

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GPD WIN 3 gaming handheld PC mixes old design with new hardware

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The success of the Nintendo Switch revived interest in portable gaming consoles and gave birth to some devices and smartphone accessories that tried to capitalize on that. Even before the age of the Switch, however, GPD was already trying its luck with dedicated Android gaming handhelds before stumbling upon a niche yet profitable portable PC gaming market. Its latest attempt is perhaps its most ambitious yet, cramming almost unbelievable specs into a design that looks like a blast from the past.

Those who have been following the tech market long enough may experience a bit of deja vu looking at the GPD WIN 3, the latest crowdfunded portable gaming PC handheld from the company. There is no mistaking it takes inspiration from the 2006 Sony VAIO UX and the small number of “slider” ultra-mobile PCs or UMPCs that tried to carve a niche during those days. Of course, the GPD WIN 3 applies some modern touches, starting with what’s running inside.

The contraption is powered by a Core i7-1165G7 (or Core i5-1135G7) with 16GB of LPDDR4X 4266 MHz RAM and 1TB of M.2 SSD storage, quite the powerhouse considering the size of the GPD WIN 3. There’s also the Intel Iris Xe graphics, the chipmaker’s somewhat discrete GPU and its latest attempt at making it big in PC gaming. There are, of course, the usual gaming buttons and joysticks flanking the touch screen while its special trick is the touch keyboard hidden underneath that same sliding screen.

There are, of course, certain compromises that have to be made with a gaming PC of this size and power. For one, the 5.5-inch screen maxes out at 1280×720 pixel in order to maximize the graphics hardware, allowing it to run games at moderate frame rates and decent settings but at lower resolutions. The keyboard, which lacks the tactile feedback of physical keys, is also best for brief text input only, for in-game chats, logins, etc.

Given this is pretty much a laptop in a small form-factor, it shouldn’t be surprising that the price tag is anything but small, too. The lowest you can get it on Indiegogo right now is $799 for the Core i5 option but you might want to consider throwing in $50 more for a dock that converts the GPD WIN 3 into a desktop, as long as you have a bigger screen, a keyboard, and a mouse. The campaign, which is pretty much a pre-order system, still has over a month left. Judging by how many already grabbed the highest $949 tier, however, it’s clear that this might also be GPD’s most successful product yet.

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Apple M1 Macs can no longer sideload iPhone, iPad apps

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Apple’s M1 Silicon opened the doors for more iOS and iPadOS apps to run on macOS beyond the very few supported by Mac Catalyst on Intel-based Macs. Unsurprisingly, some consider the doors still not opened wide enough as some apps are still unavailable from the Mac App Store. That has pushed some to look for a workaround that allowed them to install almost any iPhone or iPad app on M1 Macs. Unfortunately for them, Apple has now closed that window, perhaps for good.

It might boggle the mind why some M1 Mac owners would want to sideload iOS apps when iOS apps are supported on the new ARM-based computers. The reason pretty much boils down to why Mac users also “sideload” apps outside of the Mac App Store, at least for apps that are not available from Apple’s sanctioned store in the first place. That is to say, not all iOS and iPadOS apps are available for installation on M1 Macs.

Although M1 Macs are technically capable of running them, Apple gave developers the option not to have their iPhone apps listed on the Mac App Store for one reason or another. Perhaps they have a dedicated Mac app already or simply don’t want to support that use case and the potential headaches it may bring. Unsurprisingly, a few enterprising power users have found ways to work around that, using unsanctioned tools to sideload those apps.

Apple was, of course, unamused and has now pushed a server-side update that effectively blocks that possibility. Users who try to sideload unsupported iOS apps on M1 Macs will be met with a failure message if they’re on macOS 11.1 Big Sur. Those running the beta version of macOS 11.2 will be shown a more descriptive explanation.

That said, if you were lucky enough to have installed such unsupported iPhone apps before this, those will still work as long as the app remains installed. Given how the change was implemented, 9to5Mac believes that there will be no way to work around this safeguard, at least not without some serious hacking.

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