Online auction of record-breaking whisky collection hit by cyber-attack
A record-breaking online auction of rare whiskies has been postponed indefinitely after being targeted in a cyber-attack. The sale of Richard Gooding’s “The Perfect Collection” was marketed as “the largest and most unprecedented private whisky collection ever to be offered for public sale”. The first phase of the auction, consisting of more than 1,900 bottles, fetched more than £3.2m earlier this year. The second phase of the auction, made up of 1,958 lots, went up on the Whisky Auctioneer website on 10 April. One of the world’s most sought-after whiskies, the Macallan 1926 Fine and Rare 60 Year Old, was expected to fetch more than £1m at the auction.
Waymo’s simulators are doing 100 years of driving per day, even while working from home
Waymo may have suspended its on-road testing for self-driving vehicles due to COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not keeping busy in the meantime. See, a big part of making self-driving cars work is training neural networks to recognize hazards in the real world, and while doing that on public roads is important, using simulations is also a big part of it. Waymo can simulate a century’s worth of on-road testing virtually in just a single 24-hour period, so that’s what it’s doing. In fact, Waymo says it’s simulated 15 billion miles of driving to date. For some context, that’s like making 31,394 round trips to the moon or one trip per day for 86 years. Not bad, huh?
Instagram now allows users to fundraise for nonprofits while livestreaming
Instagram is today launching a new way for users to fundraise for nonprofits via Instagram Live, amid the coronavirus pandemic. While the company had already offered Donation Stickers for the use in Stories, the new Live Donations feature will allow anyone to create fundraisers while live streaming, either alone or with others for a sort of virtual telethon experience. The feature arrives only a day after TikTok launched a donations feature that works in both its video posts and its live streams. But unlike TikTok, which only supports a handful of charitable causes at launch, Facebook says its Live Donations feature can be used to create fundraisers for over a million nonprofits.
YouTube brings fact-check panels to videos in the United States
YouTube will begin adding informational panels containing information from its network of fact-checkers to videos in the United States, the company said. The panels, which were introduced last year in Brazil and India, appear on searches for topics where fact-checkers have published relevant articles on the subject. The move comes at a time when platforms have seen a surge in misinformation related to COVID-19 and its origin, possible cures, and other subjects. “When users are searching on YouTube around a specific claim, we want to give an opportunity for those fact checks to show up right then and there, when our users are looking for information — especially around fast-moving. quickly changing topics like COVID-19,” said Neal Mohan, YouTube’s chief product officer. “But of course fact checking will apply more broadly now that it’s launching here in the US.”
Twitter turns off its original SMS service in most countries
For the most part, you can no longer use Twitter as it was originally built to be used: over text message.
Last week, Twitter turned off the ability to receive SMS messages containing the text of new tweets. The feature was disabled in all but “a few countries” that rely on the feature. This won’t be a huge deal for the vasty majority of Twitter users who access the service via the app or website. But there are already complaints from some people who still used SMS to read tweets. One business, DansDeals, said it relied on the feature to alert readers to sales. The change largely marks the end of an era for Twitter: when the service launched, it was built around SMS. Its original 140-character limit was tailored to text message sizes, and you were meant to send and receive new tweets entirely over SMS. That hasn’t been the primary way to use Twitter for a long time, though, as more people bought smartphones and could use the mobile app.
Apple Reportedly Looking to Start Reopening Stores in May
If you’re an Apple user stuck at home with a wonky device or waiting on one that’s stuck in the shop, help may be on its way soon as Apple is reportedly going to start reopening its U.S. stores starting in May. According to retail employees who spoke to Bloomberg, the latest info about Apple’s retail locations came from Apple vice president Deirdre O’Brien who detailed Apple’s plans during an internal weekly video update. While O’Brien didn’t provide details about specific dates or locations, she did say that Apple is “continuing to analyze this health situation in every location, and I do expect we will reopen up many more stores in May.”
Apple Maps now shows COVID-19 testing sites across the US
As hinted earlier, Apple has started displaying COVID-19 testing sites in Maps. People in all 50 states and Puerto Rico can use Apple’s default navigation app to quickly find a place to get checked, whether it’s a hospital, urgent care clinic, pharmacy or dedicated testing site. The facilities also fall under a new “COVID-19 Testing” search category that’s prioritized alongside other essentials like groceries and healthcare. The listings should include details on what you’ll need to know before going in, such as any requirements for appointments or referrals. The news comes shortly before Apple and Google release their beta contact tracing system and reflects the sudden shift in priorities for mobile OS developers.