Thursday, May 23, 2019

Nigerian payments startup, Kudi has raised $5.8m in what appears to be a Series...

According to a U.S. SEC filing, Kudi, a pioneering conversational online payments startup, has raised $5.8m in a funding round led by the Partech Africa Fund.

Social Media Roundup: Messy Messy Messy Group

This week on social media. the story behind the rift between MMMG founders Ubi Franklin and Iyanya, Congolese singer Koffi Olomide gets prison sentence for rape and other stories.

Tech: Despite predictions and controversy, PewDiePie has yet to lose his spot as YouTube’s...

PewDiePie became the first YouTube channel to reach 70 million subscribers, despite the creator’s controversial history of making offensive comments.
YouTube’s biggest star is still PewDiePie, who just reached 70 million subscribers.
Researchers have predicted that PewDiePie, aka Felix Kjellberg, would be dethroned by the Indian music channel T-Series, but that has yet to happen.
Kjellberg has still seen support from fans and popularity in the YouTube community despite a long history of disparaging racist and anti-Semitic remarks.
The pundits predicted that a new content creator would be crowned YouTube’s biggest star come November, but the title still belongs to the Swedish vlogger PewDiePie.
PewDiePie became the first YouTuber to reach the 70-million subscriber mark, beating out the Indian music channel T-Series who has been quickly gaining ground. Research firms predicted that T-Series would overtake PewDiePie — who real name is Felix Kjellberg — by the end of October, but the content creator still led Monday by almost half a million subscribers.
Kjellberg has managed to keep his spot atop YouTube despite a history of making offensive remarks in his videos. Most recently, Kjellberg landed in hot water this summer over a (since deleted) Twitter post. Following Demi Lovato’s hospitalization for an apparent drug overdose, Kjellberg tweeted out a comic that depicted Lovato asking her mom for money to buy a burger, then instead using it to buy heroin.
Although his subscriber base has remained loyal throughout his controversial past, YouTube itself has punished the creator for his actions. News surfaced in February 2017 that nine videos published on PewDiePie’s channel featured Kjellberg making anti-Semitic comments, and the video platform responded by cancelling the second season of Kjellberg’s original series on YouTube Premium.
Read more: PewDiePie criticizes YouTube’s ‘inept’ leadership, accuses the company of giving Logan Paul a lighter punishment for offensive video
This sordid history hasn’t stopped other YouTube influencers from calling on their fans to support Kjellberg in securing his spot atop YouTube. Tubefilter reports that fellow YouTube creator MrBeast campaigned heartily for Kjellberg through stints on local radio and purchases of advertisements on TV, websites, and billboards.
It’s worth nothing that this title of “YouTube’s biggest star” is based on the number of subscribers. Based on viewership, PewDiePie sits down at No. 7 on a leaderboard from research firm Social Blade. T-Series, however, leads all of YouTube in terms of viewership with more than 53 billion all-time video views.
As of Monday, research firm Tubular Labs revised its estimates to predict that T-Series would overtake PewDiePie for the most subscribers on November 30.
Meanwhile, PewDiePie posted on Twitter that he’s already eyeing 100 million subscribers.

Tech: Before-and-after photos show the devastating destruction in Malibu as the California wildfires rage...

California has been overtaken by a string of deadly wildfires, including the Woolsey Fire in Malibu, which has killed two people so far.
California has been overtaken by a string of deadly wildfires, which continue to blaze in Ventura and Los Angeles Counties to the south and the town of Paradise, California to the north.
Since the fires began on November 8, few communities have been more devastated than Malibu, a wealthy enclave that’s been engulfed by the Woolsey Fire. Authorities report that the fire has spread across 91,500 acres of land and is only 20% contained.
Nearby, the Hill Fire has destroyed more than 4,500 acres, but was 80% contained on Monday.
In Northern California, the Camp Fire destroyed the entire town of Paradise in less than a day, killing at least 29 people and decimating 6,700 structures. The fire has already been dubbed the most destructive wildfire in California history.
Though the majority of deaths have taken place in Paradise, at least two people were declared dead in Malibu on Friday. Their burned bodies were found in a car near Mulholland Highway.
As the Woolsey Fire continues to rage, mandatory evacuations remain in place in Malibu. Take a look at how the luxury community has changed in the last few days.
Malibu is home to some of the nation’s most expensive properties.
A home on Billionaire’s Beach recently sold for $110 million, marking the priciest home sale in LA County history.
Read more: The cofounder of the Hard Rock Cafe just sold his mansion on Billionaire’s Beach in Malibu for a record-breaking $110 million
Today, the city’s oceanfront properties have been reduced to charred remains.
Woolsey is the worst fire to hit Malibu since the Corral Fire in 2007, which burned more than 4,900 acres and destroyed 53 homes.
Source: Los Angeles Times
On Friday, all of the city’s residents were told to evacuate their homes.
All Malibu schools will be closed until at least Friday, November 16. Read more: Malibu is burning — Wildfires are spreading through southern California, and photos show a hellscape on the ground
Residents of Point Dume and Encinal Canyon were told to either boil water or use water bottles to drink, cook, and brush their teeth.
Source: Malibu City
Before the flames started, Malibu’s Zuma Beach hosted its typical share of tourists and locals.
As the fire began to spread, the beach quickly teemed with evacuees, who brought their belongings and animals.
Mulholland Highway, a popular route that connects to many regional parks, looked peaceful and pristine before the blaze.
By Sunday, the road was littered with debris and toppled power lines.
Homes on Dune Drive stood tall before the fire.
On Friday, many were burned to the ground.
Thus far, the fire has destroyed 177 structures and threatened around 57,000 more.
The low-lying homes on Wandermere Road were once shaded by a canopy of trees.
Now, all that’s left in some areas is scorched land and ruined belongings.
High-up mansions have also been destroyed near Malibu Lake.
Celebrities like Miley Cyrus, Neil Young, and Gerard Butler have all lost their Malibu homes. Read more: All of the celebrities who have evacuated or lost their homes as wildfires spread across California
Firefighters have been working nonstop to contain the flames, which were approaching the Salvation Army camps in Malibu Creek State Park on Saturday.
Source: Malibu City
Local authorities have deployed water and flame retardant to try and quell the fire.
“Malibu is a really small community and gets a bad rap for being this kind of elitist, snobby place, and it’s exactly the opposite,” one local told the LA Times.
“It’s built off the shoulders of hard-working blue-collar families, and that’s really going to show when we rebuild this place,” he said. “It’s a real community; it isn’t something people buy into.

Tech: Here’s why virtual reality still hasn’t taken off, despite being around for nearly...

Virtual reality has existed for nearly two decades, but it still hasn’t proven to be “the future of technology.” Here are a few reasons why.
Virtual reality has existed for nearly two decades, but it still hasn’t proven to be “the future of technology” as most were expecting.
Some up-and-coming machines include the Oculus Quest, the Samsung VR, and the Vive Pro — but they have a few setbacks from regular video gaming consoles like Xbox or PlayStation.
Watch the video above for a few reasons why virtual reality still hasn’t taken off and how it can become the next big thing.
Following is a transcript of the video.
Michelle Yan: Believe it or not, virtual reality has been around for nearly 20 years. And yet, it still feels like a random experiment instead of the next mainstream video game. You’d think after nearly two decades of calling it the future, it’d be better, but it’s not.
So why does virtual reality still suck? First, the cost. Virtual reality is an expensive commitment.
Kevin Webb: Right now the cost of entry for virtual reality is around $400 or $500 once you factor in all the different devices and games and whatnot. There are some new machines coming up, like the Oculus Quest that can make it a little bit easier, or the Samsung VR, that’s a bit cheaper. But overall, you’re probably gonna be in the range of $500.
Michelle Yan: And that’s just for entry-level models. If you’re looking for something super powerful like the Vive Pro Starter Kit, you’re looking at least $1,000, if not more.
And then there’s the annoying setup. Most of these devices aren’t something you can just plug into a power outlet and be on your way.
Kevin Webb: You have the Vive that can take a full room with sensors all around you. You have the PlayStation VR which has extra cameras and sensor bars, and even specific controllers for it. And then even the Gear VR can burn up your phone’s battery if you use it for too long. Setting up a virtual reality experience on your own can be kind of a hassle. It just takes a lot of time. And even once you’ve spent it, you might not know what you wanna do.
Michelle Yan: And once you do finally figure out what games to play or how else to use it, this isn’t like your PS4 or Xbox where you can binge for hours on end.
Kevin Webb: The VR headsets that are available right now are a bit cumbersome and heavy. And spending too much time in virtual reality can be disorienting, so wearing the headset for more than half an hour can leave your head spinning when you take it off.
Right now Facebook is recommending that people take a 10 to 15 minute break for every 30 minutes that they play. That means, even if you wanna spend an hour in virtual reality, about 20 minutes of that will just be cooling off.
Michelle Yan: Not to mention, virtual reality is very platform specific.
Kevin Webb: If you purchase a game that requires the sensors and controllers of the HTC Vive, for example, you might not be able to carry it over to future technology. Most of the games that we see in VR right now are pretty basic compared to what you see on a video game console or even your smartphone.
Even the best games that have been in VR, like “Resident Evil 7” or “Superhot VR” are available on regular computers so there’s not much of a reason just to go to VR to play.
Michelle Yan: And games made for something like the PlayStation VR won’t be playable on other headsets and vice versa. Right now almost any game you buy for one platform won’t work on any other platforms. That makes it harder for virtual reality to be a shared experience, which is another problem.
Kevin Webb: With a video game or a movie that you’re really excited about it’s easy to bring that and share it with friends. You’re all seeing and experiencing the same thing. But when it comes to virtual reality, you can be sitting with someone in the same room who’s in VR and it just feels like you’re worlds apart.
Companies like Facebook are working on programs that will let you share virtual reality with friends, but it’s hard to see why that might beat out something like FaceTime or just regular video calling.
Michelle Yan: We’ve seen things like VR arcades, VR escape rooms, and even VR Ghostbusters that have been trying to make the experience more shared. But those require going somewhere and paying an admission cost for a small 10 to 15 minute experience.
So what can VR platforms do to become more successful?
Kevin Webb: For VR to really catch on, it needs to offer something that feels totally exclusive to virtual reality. Whether it’s immersive environments or different ways to interact with your friends. It needs to have a reason to make people put on that headset.

Tech: How this CEO used a simple system to nail his work-life balance and...

List every job you have. Then get to work. That’s the method that Qualtrics CEO Ryan Smith used to build a company that he just sold to SAP for $8 billion.
When a company offered to buy Ryan Smith’s startup Qualtrics for more than $500 million, he asked his wife to take a drive.
The deal, and the amount of money it would net his family, was a lot to process. But after just 30 minutes of driving south, the couple decided to turn it down.
They felt earning so much money at once could negatively impact the way they were raising their children. And although Smith had been running his business for nearly a decade, he had gotten good at balancing both work and his personal life, so being an entrepreneur wasn’t a major strain on his family.
Together, the Smiths decided to keep Ryan’s 800-person survey company private — at least until now, as SAP announced it was buying Qualtrics in an all-cash deal for $8 billion, just days before the company was set to IPO.
It wasn’t always easy for Smith to feel successful at both home and work. He, like many executives, uses a CEO coach to help him keep things balanced. He likens work-life balance to a plane that can easily go lopsided and constantly needs to be stabilized. One wing represents his family’s needs, the other the needs of his work. When he’s on a business trip, for example, one side of the plane tilts down. When he returns to his family and clears out the weekend for his children, it’s tilted back up.
Smith’s CEO coach taught him a way to plan for success that can be implemented every week. He described it to a group of fellow CEOs at a conference in Ireland in 2014.
The coach asked him which jobs he was responsible for. Smith replied that he was:
A husband
A father
A son
A CEO
A boss
A sibling
A grandson
A friend
The CEO coach then asked him what he could do for each job that week to make him feel successful. He noted that if he took his wife on a date and bought her a surprise bouquet of flowers, that might make him feel like a good husband. And if he taught his daughter to ride a bike, he would feel like a better dad.
He also found that he could combine tasks on his list to achieve everything quickly. If he was really productive, every task written on Sunday could be accomplished by Tuesday.
For example, if he took his daughter to his parent’s house and taught her to ride a bike in their cul-de-sac, he could be both a good father and son.
So Smith’s weekly job list began to look something like this:
A husband – Take wife to dinner and buy her flowers
A father – Teach daughter to ride a bike
A son – Visit parents. Combine tasks 2 & 3.
Smith learned that people often plan for one phase of life (“I’m going to sell my company by the time I turn 30.”) But they either don’t know which steps to take to achieve that goal, or they don’t plan what to do after the goal has been achieved.
His CEO coach’s plan breaks daunting life goals into weekly tasks, so people don’t wake up one day and realized they’ve let major priorities slip.
Shortly after Smith explained this success tactic on Friday evening, he left the conference. Others stayed out late and partied at a local pub, but Smith drove 3 hours to Dublin and booked an early flight home to Utah. That way, when his children woke up on Sunday morning, they’d be able to spend all day with their father.

Tech: Netflix reportedly had an internal debate after its testing favored ‘Grace and Frankie’...

Netflix didn’t originally include Jane Fonda in “Grace and Frankie” season 2 images because tests reportedly showed users didn’t respond well to her.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Netflix tests showed that users were more likely to click on images for “Grace and Frankie” that didn’t include actress Jane Fonda.
This prompted a debate between its content and tech teams, the Journal reported.
Netflix’s algorithm reportedly put the streaming giant between a rock and a hard place when it came to its original series, “Grace and Frankie.”
The show stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as two women who find out their husbands are having an affair with one another. According to The Wall Street Journal, which cited anonymous sources close to the discussions, Netflix’s tech side found that users were more likely to click on promotion for the show that didn’t include Fonda.
The Journal reported that this finding prompted an internal debate within the company between Netflix’s content team, which didn’t want to anger Fonda and argued that it could be a violation of her contract, and its tech team, which stressed the importance of the data.
Netflix ultimately decided to include images of Fonda, according to the Journal, but it shows how Netflix’s Hollywood side and its Silicon Valley side can come into conflict as the streamer leans more into original shows and movies that include top talent.
“We’ve been honored to have a groundbreaking collaboration with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin that is going on six seasons,” Netflix said in a statement to Business Insider. “While we always test various creative images for every show on our service, both Jane and Lily have been part of our promotion of the show from the beginning.”
“Grace and Frankie” returns in 2019 for its fifth season.

Tech: The inside story behind the Marvel movie you were never supposed to see

There’s a feature-length “Fantastic Four” movie that never got released. A Marvel executive reportedly destroyed all the prints.
Marvel comic book, “The Fantastic Four,” was adapted into a movie in 1993 with a $1 million budget, but was never officially released.
German producer, Bernd Eichinger, failed to get Hollywood backing, but he risked losing his rights to the comic if he didn’t start production by the end of 1992.
In the video above, legendary “King of the B-Movies” Roger Corman, who worked on the film, tells one of the most bizarre Hollywood tales you’ll ever hear.
In 1993, a German producer teamed up with legendary “King of the B-Movies” Roger Corman to produce a low-budget, feature-length adaptation of the popular Marvel comic book “The Fantastic Four.” The movie was never officially released. Producer Bernd Eichinger owned the film rights to the comic, but a clause in his contract stated that he would lose the rights if he didn’t go into production on a “Fantastic Four” movie by December 31, 1992. Up to that point, Eichinger had failed to convince a Hollywood studio to commit to a big-budget version of the story. The producer crafted a clever way to hold onto the rights so that he could later make a big-budget version of “The Fantastic Four.” He called on Roger Corman, a legendary producer famous for his ability to crank out movies with low budgets and short schedules. It turns out that Eichinger never had any intention of releasing this low-budget version of the comic — a fact that he withheld for the movie’s cast and crew. After Corman announced plans to release the film theatrically, Eichinger paid Corman $1 million to stand down, and all available prints were reportedly destroyed by then-Marvel chief Avi Arad. Arad didn’t respond to our request for a comment for this story. Thanks to bootlegged copies that surfaced online, the unreleased “Fantastic Four” movie has become a cult classic.In 2017, Business Insider sat down with Corman at his office in Los Angeles to talk about his most recent project, ” target=”_blank”Death Race 2050,” a sequel to the cult hit “Death Race 2000,” which Corman produced in 1975. We also talked to the director of “The Fantastic Four,” Oley Sassone. Corman and Sassone give an enlightening account of one of the most bizarre Hollywood tales you’ll ever hear.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published on March 18, 2017.

Tech: New satellite photos of California’s wildfires show the furious, deadly evolution of the...

NASA and commercial satellites are photographing the Camp, Hill, and Woolsey wildfires from space. New satellite images show the unfolding disasters.
California is still burning.
As of Monday, three major wildfires — the Camp, Hill, and Woolsey fires — have killed dozens of people and scorched hundreds of thousands of acres of forests and infrastructure.
Firefighters are struggling to contain the biggest blazes.
The Camp Fire, which is located north of Sacramento, quickly burned the entire town of Paradise to the ground. It’s now California’s most destructive wildfire in terms of structures destroyed, and is one of the state’s deadliest blazes ever. Parts of the beach community Malibu went up in flames in the Woolsey Fire, sending Hollywood actors and actresses running for safety.
So far, these two rapidly evolving disasters has left at least 31 people dead, some of whom were killed while trying to escape in cars.
Satellites owned by NASA and commercial companies such as DigitalGlobe are recording images of the fires from space. These photos provide an incredible view of how large and intense the fires are, and how quickly they’ve grown.
Here are some of the best satellite pictures of the fires so far.
As of Monday, California was dealing with three major wildfires. The Camp Fire is located about 80 miles north of Sacramento, while the Woolsey Fire and smaller Hill Fire are outside Los Angeles.
Source: Business Insider
On Thursday, dry, warm winds — including gusts of about 50 mph — blew through northern California. Climate change is drying out more vegetation in the region, increasing the risk that spreading embers will grow into larger blazes.
Source: Business Insider
The gusts helped spread the Camp Fire. As of Monday, that fast-burning blaze had burned more than 6,400 homes, making it the most destructive wildfire in California history.
Sources: Business Insider, CalFire
The Camp Fire grew at a rate of about 80 football fields per minute. This breakneck expansion pushed the blaze into the town of Paradise, which had a population of about 27,000.
Sources: Insider, Forbes, US Census Bureau
DigitalGlobe took this regional photo on Friday using its WorldView-3 satellite. By recording infrared light, the satellite’s view can penetrate thick smoke and detect fires.
Healthy vegetation is shown in blue, active fires glow, and scorched areas look yellow-green and yellow-orange. The town of Paradise is in flames to the left in this picture.
Here’s a close-up view of Paradise as seen from space in September.
This WorldView-3 image shows the same view of Paradise on Friday, in flames.
The entire town was leveled in a day, and the fire has killed at least 29 people. This makes the Camp Fire as deadly as the Griffith Park Fire of 1933, which was previously considered California’s deadliest wildfire ever.
Sources: Business Insider, LA Times
As the Camp Fire raged, the Hill and Woolsey fires also grew, You can see those fires outside of Los Angeles in this satellite image from Saturday.
All three wildfires covered most of California in a haze of smoke over the weekend.
As of Monday morning, the Woolsey Fire had scorched about 92,000 acres of land. This view shows the Malibu area on Sunday.
Source: CalFire
WorldView-3’s infrared camera peered through the smoke in the mountains to show this view of the fires on the same day.
Here’s Point Dume in Malibu in February 2018 — before the Woolsey Fire.
By Sunday, the wildfire had torn through canyons in the beach community, burning homes and killing two people in a car. The blaze sent many celebrities fleeing and torched some of their houses.
Sources: Insider (1, 2)
As of Monday morning, the Woolsey Fire was about 20% contained and the Camp Fire was about 25% contained. The Hill Fire was about 80% contained.

Tech: Teleology finally takeover Nigeria’s fourth-largest telecoms company, 9mobile

Teleology appoints new directors to run Nigeria’s fourth-largest telecoms company, 9mobile. Nigeria’s telecoms regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission, has finally approved the takeover of 9mobile by a new investor, Teleology Holdings.Teleology has appointed Nasiru Ado Bayero (Chairman), Stephane Beuvelet (Acting Managing Director) and 5 new directors to run Nigeria’s fourth-largest telecoms company, 9mobile.This comes after the company was finally taken over by Teleology Holdings Limited.Mohammed Edewor, the company’s spokesperson said Teleology “is pleased to announce the constitution of a new Board of Directors”, following “the successful completion of the tenure of the former Board appointed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and in fulfilment of the consequential transfer of final ownership to the new investors, Teleology Nigeria Limited”.“We thank all out-going members of the Board for helping to shepherd 9mobile through the critical transition phase it has passed through since July 2017 and wish them the very best in their future assignments.“For us, the composition of the new Board of Directors is another significant milestone, and this follows the issuance of final approval of no objection by the Board of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to the effect that the technical and financial bids Teleology submitted for 9mobile met and satisfied all the regulatory requirements.“This is indeed the dawn of a new era in the evolution of the 9mobile brand in the Nigerian market”.Teleology, an investment firm led by the former MTN Nigeria chief, Adrian Wood, emerged as the preferred bidder in February 2018, following a bid process arranged by Barclays Africa, after a debt default forced Etisalat out of the country.

Tech: The death toll from California’s fires has risen to 31, with thousands of...

Dangerous wildfires are raging California. The Camp Fire has charred 113,000 acres, the Hill Fire burned 4,500, and the Woolsey Fire scorched 91,500.
The death toll from the California wildfires had risen to 31. Six more bodies were recovered on Sunday, the Butte County sheriff said.
The Camp Fire in northern California destroyed an entire town in less than a day and has killed at least 29 people, making it one of the deadliest fires in the state’s history. Authorities said it was 25% contained Monday morning.
The Woolsey and Hill Fires are burning on the outskirts of LA, and Woolsey alone has burned more than 140 square miles.
The flames are being fueled by dry, hot conditions and strong winds.
California wildfires are becoming so frequent and pervasive that officials there say there’s almost no need for the term “wildfire season” anymore.
Three dangerous wildfires are still raging in California: the Camp Fire in northern California has become one of the two deadliest in state history, and the Woolsey and Hill fires are destroying homes and businesses around LA.
The total death toll from the three fires is up to 31, and it’s expected to rise, officials told reporters on Sunday.
The Camp Fire is responsible for most of the fatalities: It has claimed at least 29 lives as it burned through more than 176 square miles of land. The flames have moved at a breakneck pace since the fire started Thursday morning. The blaze quickly charred the entire town of Paradise, which was home to 27,000 people. More than 6,700 homes and 260 businesses have been destroyed so far, making the Camp Fire the most destructive wildfire in California history in terms of structures lost.
The flames spread so fast — at a pace of 80 football fields per minute — that at least six people burned to death in their cars, the Butte County Sheriff’s Department said. Over the weekend, the ground was still too hot for rescue dogs to circulate, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Further south, in areas around Los Angeles, the Woolsey Fire killed two people in a car, forced over 275,000 from their homes, and destroyed 180 structures. It has burned at least 143 square miles of land, and was 20% contained Monday morning. The smaller Hill Fire charred over 7 square miles and was 75% contained on Monday. Both the Woolsey and Hill Fires encircled the town of Thousand Oaks, where residents were already reeling from a deadly mass shooting in which 12 people were murdered.
“If you were affected by the Woolsey or Hill fires, the Thousand Oaks mass shooting, or both, you can call the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or text ‘TalkWithUs’ to 66746 for emotional support and resources,” the LA County website reads.
Already this year, 7,578 fires have burned across California, fueled by hot, dry conditions and aggressive winds.
The Camp Fire has killed at least 29 people
The Camp Fire started about 6:30 a.m. on Thursday. Fire officials told the Associated Press on Sunday that 228 people were still unaccounted for. Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said the county is working with anthropologists from California State University at Chico to help identify bone fragments among ash in the area.
According to the Butte County sheriff’s office, five of the people whose deaths have been confirmed were found near Edgewood Lane in Paradise, California, in or near “vehicles that were overcome by the Camp Fire.” The sheriff’s office was not yet able to identify those victims because of their burn injuries.
“The fire was so close I could feel it in my car through rolled up windows,” Rita Miller, who fled Paradise with her disabled mother told the Associated Press.
Other residents ran from the fire on foot, the Sacramento Bee reported.
The flames have been fueled by hot, dry conditions and spread by California’s Santa Ana winds. Cal Fire issued red-flag warnings around the state on Sunday, which means that conditions are dry and windy enough to create what the firefighting agency calls “extreme fire behavior.”
California Acting Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in Butte County on Thursday and sent a letter to President Donald Trump and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) asking for federal assistance.
Smoke from that fire is blanketing wide swaths of Northern California in a gray haze. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says the air throughout much of the San Francisco Bay Area is “unhealthy” to breathe.
Federal air monitors have suggested that older adults, children, teens, and people with heart and lung conditions should limit their time outside because of the high number of dangerously small pollutants in the air. Some people have donned masks to protect their lungs.
The Hill and Woolsey fires have burned 150 square miles in Ventura and LA counties
The Woolsey Fire claimed its first two victims on Friday. Two burned bodies were found in a “long, narrow” Malibu driveway near Mulholland Highway, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said.
The flames from the Woolsey Fire have also threatened the homes of celebrities such as the Kardashian sisters and left a burned shell where Gerard Butler’s home once stood. At least 275,000 other people have evacuated. As of Monday morning, Cal Fire estimated more than 370 structures had been destroyed.
As the Woolsey Fire grew on Friday, the LA County fire department wrote on Twitter: “Imminent threat! Malibu lakes residents must leave area immediately.”
LA County Sheriff’s Deputies were knocking on doors there, telling everyone in the star-studded beach town to get out.
Firefighters are racing to keep flames from charring people’s homes, but as the LA Fire Department’s Eric Scott pointed out on Twitter, some houses are better protected than others, since green vegetation can help keep flames back.
The nearby Hill Fire is much smaller — it has burned 4,500 acres burned in Ventura County. Mandatory evacuation orders are still in place for people at the Point Mugu Naval Base and California State University Channel Islands, among other areas.
You can view the full evacuation orders as well as shelter and donation information on the Ventura County Emergency Information site and the LA County Woolsey Fire site.
Read More: Why wildfire season is getting longer and stronger
On Friday morning, less than 24 hours after the two fires broke out, acting Gov. Newsom declared a state of emergency in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. President Trump approved some federal assistance for the California fires on Friday, but then threatening via Twitter over the weekend that there may be “no more Fed payments!” unless California forests are better managed.
The federal government oversees 40% of California land.
Wildfire “season,” in California used to run from late summer through the fall, since autumn’s Santa Ana winds help blow flames around.
But as the planet heats up, unseasonably high temperatures and drought conditions are becoming more common. So fire officials in the state are succumbing to the idea that fires may not be limited to any specific season anymore.
Bryan Logan and Kelly McLaughlin contributed reporting.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Tech: Apple is getting crushed after analysts predict that iPhone unit sales will shrink...

iPhone sales are projected to shrink next year. At the same time, Apple will stop disclosing iPhone unit sales.
Apple shares are sliding on Monday after a series of bad data points for iPhone demand.
JP Morgan analysts said that iPhone unit sales could decline on an annual basis in both 2018 and 2019.
TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo cut his forecast for iPhone XR shipments from 100 million to 70 million.
Apple said earlier this month that it will no longer provide iPhone sales figures to investors.
Apple is down more than 4% on Monday after a slew of analyst reports suggested that iPhone unit sales could drop year-over-year as soon as the first quarter of 2019.
These reports come shortly after Apple announced that it would no longer provide iPhone unit sales, one of the key signals that analysts use to evaluate Apple’s business. Apple also provided lukewarm guideance for the all-important holiday quarter.
The driver of the projected sales slump is that Apple’s new $749 phone, the lower-end iPhone XR, might not be the hot seller that Apple had hoped, and the company may be cutting orders for the device. Nikkei reported earlier this month that Foxconn had cut as many as 15 production lines for the device.
Now, that’s being backed up by new reports by analysts from JP Morgan and TF International Securities.
“We now forecast modest y/y declines in iPhone shipments for both calendar 2018 and 2019 on account of a weaker macro backdrop in emerging market,” Samik Chatterjee and other JP Morgan analysts wrote in a note distributed to clients on Monday, blaming the weak iPhone shipments on weak consumer confidence in emerging markets.
“Led by the softer backdrop in the [emerging markets], the better than expected response to the iPhone XS and the iPhone XS MAX (the higher-end phones) is unable to entirely offset the more tepid than expected consumer response to iPhone XR (launched recently),” the analysts continued, downgrading their price target for Apple stock to $266 from $270.
TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo had similar observations in a note released on Monday.
“We have reduced our iPhone XR shipment estimation from 100mn units to 70mn during the new product lifecycle, Kuo wrote, citing reduced Chinese consumer confidence stemming from the trade war, high prices, and competition from Huawei. However, Apple’s less expensive older phones may get a sales boost from the weak iPhone XR.
“The legacy iPhone models forecast is likely to increase significantly thanks to more affordable prices; the total iPhone shipments in 1Q19 are likely to see a YoY decline,” Kuo continued, citing Career and Nissha Printing as two suppliers that might be affected by Apple’s cuts.
Another data point potentially contributing to Apple’s slide: Lumentum, a key supplier for parts that power facial recognition systems, said that a large customer had cut its orders by 30% — and Apple is its top customer.
These data points come as fears that there is weak demand for Apple’s products in emerging markets including China, partly driven by a strong dollar making iPhones more expensive.
The slide may also reflect fears that Apple knows that iPhone unit sales are going to go negative in the short-term, which is why it decided to stop reporting unit sales. Apple said that it prefered to focus on the company’s transition to a services company, with regular recurring revenue.
“We believe these challenges are largely cyclical and investors should pay greater attention to the transformation to services, where Apple was able to report quarterly record revenue of $10 bn in [the most recent quarter] despite a regulatory challenge in China,” the JP Morgan analysts write.
Apple CEO Tim Cook was directly asked about this possibility during Apple’s most recent conference call.
“Some people may fear that this now means that the iPhone units are going to start going negative year over year because it’s easier to talk about great things and not show the details of things that aren’t so great,” Citi analyst Jim Suva said during the conference call.
Apple CEO Tim Cook responded:
“Jim, let me just add a couple things to that for color. Our installed base is growing at double digit, and that’s probably a much more significant metric for us from an ecosystem point of view and the customer loyalty, et cetera. The second thing is this is a little bit like if you go to the market and you push your cart up to the cashier and she says, or he says how many units you have in there? It doesn’t matter a lot how many units there are in there in terms of the overall value of what’s in the cart.”
Apple stock is down over 10% since it said it would no longer disclose hardware unit sales on November 1 — and these reports suggest that it may be a while before the company has another unit growth spurt.

Tech: A Lime executive insisted it has ‘the safest product’ even though the company...

Lime recalled 2,000 scooters after reports that some caught fire in at least three cities, but Caen Contee says the startup has “the safest product.”
Lime executive Caen Contee has insisted the scooter startup has “the safest product” despite the firm issuing two product recalls this month.
People reported handlebars falling off scooters and the vehicles catching light.
Contee said the firm went through several hardware iterations to improve the product and was transparent about what it offered.
Lime is one of several fast-growing startups racing rivals — and the law — to establish dominance in the scooter market.
One of the executive on Lime’s founding team has insisted that the billion-dollar scooter startup has “the safest product” — despite the firm issuing its second scooter recall in a month.
Caen Contee, vice president of global expansion and marketing told Business Insider at the Web Summit conference in Lisbon last week that the company designs its scooters in the US and then outsources the production to different companies.
“One of the reasons we’ve done customized devices and learnt so fast is to create what is the safest product, to create something that really does from day one… [serve] that trust [that] we’re always here, we’re always learning and always creating something better,” he said.
On October 31, Lime had recalled 2,000 Ninebot scooters after “unconfirmed” reports that some caught fire in at least three cities.
Now the company has recalled an unknown number of scooters made by Chinese manufacturer Okai after users across multiple cities reported that the handlebars had fallen off. Users on social media in Portland, Denver and Baltimore in the US reported problems, as well as in Paris.
Contee, who spoke to Business Insider before the reports of broken handlebars emerged, said scooter hardware was “nascent” but said the firm was innovating on the way Lime’s software made the vehicles safer. He pointed to the fact that Lime’s scooters have a capped speed limit in certain places at night, and that in Prague scooters aren’t permitted in “high pedestrian” areas.
Read more: Lime issues its second scooter recall in less than a month
Contee suggested Lime’s users were loyal because the company learns from its mistakes.
“Ultimately when you’re trying to move in this space where it’s so nascent, where no one has created a vehicle for this particular use… if you haven’t made a core competency of being able to learn and take that feedback and iterate on hardware, then what can be done in six months of learning and [with] a different fleet type creates a loyalty you wouldn’t have otherwise.”
When Business Insider asked Contee how he might reassure would-be scooter riders alarmed by the flimsiness of the devices, he said the firm had been transparent in what it’s created.
Still, Lime’s terms of service state baldly: “You agree that neither Lime nor the Released Persons are liable for any injury or death suffered by You while using the Services, whether or not You are wearing a helmet at the time of injury.”
Scooter startups are worth billions, but there are lots of questions about the law and safety
Lime has clocked 20 million in the 18 months since its launched, and is worth $1.1 billion after raising $335 million from high-profile backers including Uber and Alphabet. Its biggest rivals include Bird, another US startup worth millions in backing, Europe’s Taxify, and a host of smaller regional firms.
All of the firms are racing to lure as many users onto their apps as possible, and to offer different types of new city transport, with Lime also offering electric bikes and electric cars.
But regulation and safety are proving thorny problems for companies that are taking a leaf out of the Uber playbook and perhaps prioritizing speedy expansion over compliance.
A US man died in September after falling off a Lime scooter and not wearing a helmet, while a class-action filed in the US in October accuses both Lime and Bird of “gross negligence.”
Meanwhile, scooter startups have struggled to expand to Europe’s biggest market, London, because their vehicles don’t meet local regulatory standards. Business Insider revealed in August that both firms were hoping to see changes in UK law that would permit scooters on London roads.
Contee said Lime was “pro-regulation” and that the firm hoped to convince London’s transport regulator, Transport for London, that it had created the best product.
The firm will introduce electric bikes to the UK, then plans to expand to other vehicles in time. “We will work to create relationships based on that, and we will work over time to add vehicles.

Tech: A top Apple executive unwittingly provided a perfect explanation for why the iPad...

For the past couple of years, Apple has been pushing the idea that the iPad, particularly the iPad Pro, can replace your computer or laptop. But in a Wired interview, Apple SVP Craig Federighi
Apple’s SVP of software engineering Craig Federighi gave an interesting answer to Wired when asked if we’ll ever see a Mac computer with a touchscreen.
“We really feel that the ergonomics of using a Mac are that your hands are rested on a surface, and that lifting your arm up to poke a screen is a pretty fatiguing thing to do,” Federighi said.
Federighi’s statement unwittingly explains why the iPad is not a good replacement for a laptop or desktop computer.
Craig Federighi is in charge of two of Apple’s flagship software products, iOS and MacOS. In many ways, he is the face of Apple’s software.
Back in June, Federighi was also the star of Apple’s WWDC keynote, which was 130 minutes long; Federighi spoke for roughly half the time, presenting for a whopping 55 minutes.
After that keynote, Wired’s Lauren Goode asked Federighi about some of Apple’s plans mentioned during the presentation. And then this happened (emphasis ours):
When addressing my question about whether iOS apps moving to macOS is a natural precursor to touchscreen Macs, Federighi told me he’s “not into touchscreens” on PCs and doesn’t anticipate he ever will be. “We really feel that the ergonomics of using a Mac are that your hands are rested on a surface, and that lifting your arm up to poke a screen is a pretty fatiguing thing to do,” he said.
What’s curious here is that while Federighi is attempting to denounce touchscreen PCs by saying that “lifting your arm up to poke a screen is a pretty fatiguing thing to do,” he’s unwittingly explaining why the iPad is not a great replacement for laptop or desktop computers.
Even though Federighi is clearly talking about Mac computers in that quote, you could basically replace “using a Mac” with “doing work” and the phrase still makes sense, since you’re often using a Mac or PC to do work.
Apple wants you to do work on an iPad and iPad Pro, but doing that requires “lifting your arm up to poke a screen,” as Federighi puts it. Even with the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard thrown in, your main input mode still requires touching the screen.
In recent years, Apple has pushed the idea of using an iPad for more than just passive activities like reading or watching videos. Apple added a ton of productivity-focused features for the iPad in iOS 11, including multi-tasking, a dock, a file system, and drag and drop — very laptop-y features. And if you didn’t think the iPad sounded enough like a work machine after that, consider Apple’s two iPad Pro models, with their fast chips and support of unique work tools that only work with iPads, like the $180 Smart Keyboard and $130 Apple Pencil.
And then of course, who could forget Apple’s “What’s A Computer?” ad for the iPad?
Maybe you didn’t see the ad. It features a young girl drawing on her iPad, texting on her iPad, taking pictures with her iPad, reading comics on her iPad — you know, kid stuff. At the end of the ad, a friendly neighbor sees the young girl on the grass, with her iPad propped up by a Smart Cover, and mistakes it for a laptop. She says, “Whatcha doing on your computer?” And the little girl says, “What’s a computer?”
Even if Apple doesn’t say the exact words, it’s very clear the company doesn’t want you to think of the iPad as just a big, pretty screen. They want you to know the iPad can also do work — real work. It also costs about as much as a laptop — the new iPad Pro models can cost even more than a MacBook Pro.
Except, Federighi himself says that “lifting your arm up to poke a screen is a pretty fatiguing thing to do.”
Maybe both parties are right. Maybe the iPad can do real work, but it does get fatiguing after awhile. If only Apple let the iPad support mice and trackpads, it could be a true laptop replacement; for now, buying an iPad to do work means you’re going to be lifting your arm to touch that screen a lot.

Tech: The $580 OnePlus 6T that’s as good as smartphones that cost twice as...

OnePlus will come in “Thunder Purple,” but it won’t be available for the cheapest model.
OnePlus is releasing a new “Thunder Purple” color option for the OnePlus 6T smartphone on November 15.
The purple color option will only be available in the $580 model of the OnePlus 6T, which comes with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.
OnePlus announced on Monday that it’ll be releasing the “Thunder Purple” color option of the OnePlus 6T on November 15.
The Thunder Purple OnePlus 6T has a matte glass finish and will only be available with the $580 8GB of RAM and 128GB storage configuration. The cheaper $550 model, with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, only comes in the Mirror Black option with a glossy glass finish.
There shouldn’t be too much of a difference between the 6GB and 8GB RAM options, but heavy smartphone users may notice. RAM allows the phone to more easily keep recently opened apps running in the background so that they don’t close when you move on to another app. When an app is closed because a phone has used up its available RAM, it usually takes longer to re-open that app when you return to it. Having more RAM makes the phone’s performance feel faster, as it can keep more apps running in the background, and it opens apps right where you left off when you return to it rather than re-opening them.
Despite being purple, the Thunder Purple OnePlus 6T won’t be available at T-Mobile stores, where OnePlus has an exclusive carrier deal. The purple phone will only be available to buy from OnePlus’ website. Otherwise, the Thunder Purple OnePlus 6T will work on T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon’s network like the other OnePlus 6T models.
The OnePlus 6T is also available in a $630 model that comes in the matte Midnight Black color option with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage.