ServiceNow teams with Workplace by Facebook on service chatbot

One of the great things about enterprise chat applications beyond giving employees a common channel to communicate, is the ability to integrate with other enterprise applications. Today, Workplace, Facebook’s enterprise collaboration and communication application, and ServiceNow announced a new chatbot to make it easier for employees to navigate a company’s help desks inside Workplace Chat.

The beauty of the chatbot is that employees can get answers to common questions whenever they want, wherever they happen to be. The Workplace-ServiceNow integration happens in Workplace Chat and can can involve IT or HR help desk scenarios. A chatbot can help companies save time and money, and employees can get answers to common problems much faster.

Previously, getting these kind of answers would have required navigating multiple systems, making a phone call or submitting a ticket to the appropriate help desk. This approach provides a level of convenience and immediacy.

Companies can brainstorm common questions and answers and build them in the ServiceNow Virtual Agent Designer. It comes with some standard templates, and doesn’t require any kind of advanced scripting or programming skills. Instead, non-technical end users can adapt pre-populated templates to meet the needs, language and workflows of an individual organization.

Screenshot: ServiceNow

This is all part of a strategy by Facebook to integrate more enterprise applications into the tool. In May at the F8 conference, Facebook announced 52 such integrations from companies like Atlassian, SurveyMonkey, Hubspot and Marketo (the company Adobe bought in September for $4.75 billion).

This is part of a broader enterprise chat application trend around making these applications the center of every employee’s work life, while reducing task switching, the act of moving from application to application. This kind of integration is something that Slack has done very well and has up until now provided it with a differentiator, but the other enterprise players are catching on and today’s announcement with ServiceNow is part of that.

Source: Tech Crunch

Apple cancels AirPower product, citing inability to meet its high standards for hardware

Apple has canceled the AirPower product completely, citing difficulty meeting its own standards.

“After much effort, we’ve concluded AirPower will not achieve our high standards and we have cancelled the project. We apologize to those customers who were looking forward to this launch. We continue to believe that the future is wireless and are committed to push the wireless experience forward,” said Dan Riccio, Apple’s senior vice president of Hardware Engineering in an emailed statement today.

After a delay of over a year since it was first announced in September of 2017, the AirPower charging mat has become something of a focal point for Apple’s recent habit of announcing envelope tickling products and not actually shipping them on time. The AirPods, famously, had a bit of a delay before becoming widely available, and were shipped in limited quantities before finally hitting their stride and becoming a genuine cultural moment.

AirPower, however, has had far more time to marinate in the soup of public opinion since it was announced. Along with recent MacBook keyboard troubles, this has functioned as a sort of flash point over discussion that something isn’t right with Apple’s hardware processes.

Everything I’ve personally heard (Apple is saying nothing officially) about the AirPower delay has been related to tough engineering problems related to the laws of physics. Specifically, I’ve heard that they ran too hot because the 3D charging coils in close proximity to one another required very, very cautious power management.

Obviously, it would do Apple very little good to release a charging mat that caused devices to overheat, perhaps even to the point of damage. So, it has canceled the project. If you know more about this, feel free to reach out, I’m fascinated.

There have been other scenarios where Apple has pushed the hardware envelope hard and managed to pull it off and ship them, the iPhone 7 Plus, its first with a twin-lens system, being one that jumps to mind. Apple had a fallback plan in a single-lens version but at some point had to commit and step off a ledge to get it done in time to ship — even though knowing they still had problems to solve. Apple has done this many times over the years, but has managed to ship a lot of them.

AirPower, however, was the other kind of case. The project was apparently canceled so recently that boxes of the new AirPod cases even have pictures of AirPower on them and the new AirPod sets have mentions of AirPower.

This is a very, very rare public misstep for Apple. Never, throughout the discussion about when AirPower might be released, did the overall trend of the discussion lean toward “never.” That’s a testament to the ability of its hardware engineering teams to consistently execute features that seemed to be nearly impossible over the years. In this case, it appears that the engineering issues have proven, at least at this point, insurmountable.

The fact of the matter is that hardware is, well, hard. The basic concepts of wireless charging are well known and established, but by promising the ability to place multiple devices anywhere on a pad, allowing them to charge simultaneously while communicating charge levels and rates, Apple set its bar incredibly high for AirPower. Too high, in this case.

Source: Tech Crunch

20 years for swatter who got a man killed

Tyler Barriss, a prolific and seemingly unremorseful repeat swatter and bomb hoaxer whose fakery got a man killed in 2017, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison. This hopefully closes the book on a long and disturbing career of random and mercenary harassment and threats.

Not to linger on the crimes committed by Barriss, but to refresh your memory: Barriss accumulated dozens of charges generally relating to calling in fake threats in order to get police or SWAT called to a location or shut it down. Among his bomb threat targets was the FCC, which had to clear the room during a major net neutrality vote because of a call Barriss had made.

Nearly at the same time, as part of a conflict relating to a $1.50 Call of Duty bet, he had called the police claiming he was armed and had shot his father, and was at an address in Kansas, where he thought his target lived. Unfortunately the target had moved well before, and when the police showed up, they shot and killed the current resident, Andrew Finch.

Barriss was arrested in early 2018 and pleaded guilty to 51 various charges, facing up to 25 years in prison. The sentencing today reflects the defense’s plea that he get 20 instead, no doubt in return for cooperation and the guilty plea.

It should not go unnoted here that Finch was unarmed and on his own doorstep when police killed him — with an assault rifle — reportedly because “he was reaching for his waistband.” Apparently the officer also “believed he saw a gun come up in Mr Finch’s hands.” Well, which was it, up or down? Was he reaching for the gun or raising it? Is it common for Wichita police to shoot someone within seconds of them answering the door, without assessing the situation — for instance, where the children are? As is sadly often the case in such shootings, the police are entirely without credibility here, and the officer involved seems to have faced no consequences. Justice seems out of the question, but the family has filed a lawsuit over the matter.

If the police weren’t already considered a serious danger to others, swatting wouldn’t be a thing. The chance that police will escalate is highly unpredictable, though of course being a person of color adds considerably to that risk, as a fraudulent gun in the call will cause the police to hallucinate weapons with even greater frequency than usual.

The whole case is sad and depressing, from the astonishing pettiness of Barriss and his associates to the total lack of concern over the consequences of his actions — extending, it seems, even to his prison term: he has been in before and attempted to get online and continue his hoax habit even while incarcerated.

Barriss, it seems, is a symptom of internet culture less extreme but as inevitable as the Christchurch killer. All the worst parts about being online rolled into one and given form — and means to kill. Here’s hoping we find a way to reverse the trend.

Source: Tech Crunch

Viacom-owned kids streaming service Noggin acquires educational app Sparkler

Viacom’s Nickelodeon is doubling down on the educational aspects of its preschooler-focused streaming service, Noggin, with the acquisition of the early childhood learning platform Sparkler. Announced on Friday, the deal will see Sparkler’s technology integrated into Noggin over the next year, and makes Sparkler’s co-founder and CEO Kristen Kane the new head of the Noggin streaming service.

Deal terms were not disclosed.

Kane founded Sparkler after previously working as the founding COO of educational technology company Amplify. Prior to that, she served as COO of the New York City Department of Education during the Bloomberg administration, and spent time working at the FCC, where she led development of strategies for applying broadband technologies in the education, healthcare and energy sectors.

With Sparkler, the company had been developing a different type of early learning platform that measured a child’s progress in order to offer personalized content and coaching for parents, along with other tools that allowed parents, teachers or caregivers to help engage the child through learning activities both on and off-screen.

As a part of its efforts, Sparkler was working with schools, healthcare providers and social service providers. Those relationships will continue through a new nonprofit called Sparkler Learning.

Meanwhile, Sparkler’s core technology will be integrated into Noggin, offering a similar ability to personalize Noggin’s content and allow parents to track and support their child’s progress through “playable content and experiences,” both in the app and in the real world.

The acquisition represents a further expansion of Noggin’s educational aspects beyond its original focus on offering subscription-based streaming of kids’ TV.

First launched in 2015, the idea was to allow Viacom to capitalize on some of its less popular kids’ programming — like Allegra’s Window, Blue’s Room, Franklin and Friends, Gullah Gullah Island, Miss Spider’s Sunny Patch Friends, Oswald, Pocoyo, Robot and Monster and The Upside Down Show — by using a few of its more well-known series — like Blue’s Clues, Little Bear and Ni Hao, Kai-lan — as the draw.

Over the years since, Noggin expanded to include Nickelodeon’s current programming, like PAW Patrol, Peppa Pig, Bubble Guppies and others, and added classics like Dora the Explorer, Umizoomi and Yo Gabba Gabba! The expansion made it a more well-rounded service.

Today, Noggin features more than 1,500 full-length episodes, short-form videos, Spanish-language videos and music videos.

A couple of years ago, Noggin took its first steps into offering more educational content with the addition of curriculum-based “play along” videos. These new, interactive videos asked kids to touch, tap, swipe or speak to move through the storylines.

The concept was based on the work originated by the Children’s Television Workshop, which found that when kids participated by singing or talking, they retained more of what they learned. That work had also previously led to Nickelodeon’s development of TV shows like Blue’s Clues and Dora the Explorer, among others, which further standardized the practice of interactive television by having the show’s characters speak directly to the viewing audience and ask the children questions.

Noggin’s focus on its educational aspects — instead of just competing as a “Netflix for kids” —  helped it succeed. The app now regularly ranks highly in the Kids and Family categories on the App Store, and is a Top 10 Kids app on the free charts. It’s also the No. 1 grossing app for Music and Video in the Family Category on Google Play. And Nickelodeon says Noggin subscriptions have grown by triple digits from 2017 to 2018.

As a result of the deal, Kane will serve in the new role of Noggin’s executive vice president, and will oversee the integration of Sparkler’s technology into the app. She will also drive Noggin’s strategy and next phase of development as an educational digital platform, Nickelodeon says.

Kane will be based in New York and report to Nickelodeon President Brian Robbins.

“Pairing Sparkler’s capabilities with our curriculum-driven content will fully transform Noggin into a premier interactive learning destination for preschoolers and their families,” said Robbins, in a statement. “Kristen brings extensive experience in the education and technology space, and she will help drive Noggin’s growth with an increased focus on delivering even greater value to our direct-to-consumer service,” he added.

Sparkler’s website has already shut down, but you can read its archives here.

The startup had previously received a small grant by winning the NewSchools Ignite Early Learning (PreK-2nd Grade) Challenge as part of its accelerator program.

Source: Tech Crunch

Turns out The Correspondent isn’t opening a U.S. newsroom after all

Dutch news organization The Correspondent surprised some of its supporters earlier this week, when co-founder and CEO Ernst Pfauth posted an update on Medium saying that the company would not be opening a newsroom in New York City.

Which was odd, since the organization raised $2.6 million in a crowdfunding campaign last fall with the express purpose of launching in the United States.

At least, that’s what I thought. After all, I wrote an article titled, “The Correspondent launches campaign to bring its ad-free journalism to the US.”

But here’s how Pfauth explained the decision in his post (emphasis in the original):

We’ve closed our campaign office in NYC, and we have decided that we won’t open a newsroom in the US for now. We don’t aim to be a national US news organization (we have founding members from more than 130 countries around the world!) but instead want to cover the greatest challenges of our time from a global perspective — in English. For that vision, Amsterdam is as a great place to start.

So was this the plan all along? In an interview with NiemanLab, Editor in Chief Rob Wijnberg argued that this is consistent what The Correspondent team promised in the campaign: “We’re setting up in English language, and we’re going to hire U.S.-based journalists as well.”

He went on to say that the team “never really talked about setting up an office” in the United States. Still, he acknowledged that it was a U.S.-centric campaign, with Wijnberg and Pfauth spending most of their time in New York, reaching out to U.S. journalists to write about the campaign and recruiting other journalists and pundits to serve as “ambassadors.”

“So it got interpreted by a lot of media who wrote about us as, ‘They’re launching in the U.S.,’” Wijnberg said. “Which is pretty much 80 percent true, in the sense that we are going to have English-language correspondents in the U.S. — just not only in the U.S. And we never promised — or never said, because that’s not our model — to have, to cover the United States or anything.”

So I thought: Okay, that makes sense. I must have misunderstood what Pfauth was telling me.

Still, I wanted to figure out how I got this wrong, so I went back to the initial email I received from Pfauth. Here’s how it began: “Dear Anthony, I’m CEO and cofounder of The Correspondent, an online journalism platform from Amsterdam that will soon be launching in the U.S.”

Then he gave a quick description of The Correspondent’s ad-free, reader-funded model, adding, “We aim to bring the same journalistic integrity and unconventional editorial approach when we launch in the U.S.”

It’s so weird that I ended up thinking they were planning to launch in the U.S.!

Wijnberg acknowledged the confusion in his interview, telling NiemanLab, “Tons of people talk about what we’re trying to do. So the idea that you can keep all these people on message all the time would be kind of totalitarian, right?”

Maybe … except this isn’t an overly-enthusiastic ambassador; it’s the company’s CEO. (And it seems he made a similar pitch to other publications.) One might argue that keeping him on message — a.k.a., making sure he accurately describes the company’s plans as he asks people for money — is not only not “totalitarian,” but actually the responsible thing to do.

The truth is, I don’t know what happened here. If The Correspondent never planned to open a U.S. office, thinks it can do a good job covering the U.S. without one and simply did a bad job communicating? Fine. If the original plan was to open a U.S. office, then it reconsidered? That would be disappointing, but if the model still produces worthwhile journalism about the U.S., then I suppose it’s a net positive.

But these confusing, convoluted, “I’m sorry that you didn’t understand us” explanations don’t just make the company look disingenuous — they also seem antithetical to running a newsroom that depends on readers’ knowledge, goodwill and money.

Source: Tech Crunch

Facebook needs a white hat Cambridge Analytica

Facebook has had a terrible couple of years. Fake news. Cambridge Analytica. Charges of anti-semitism.  Russia hacking the 2016 election. Racist memes, murders and lynchings in India, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.  

And Facebook is just the tech company with the longest list of scandals. There’s Google, YouTube, and Twitter’s well-documented roles in radicalization to consider, not to mention growing global health crises caused by medical misinformation spread on all the major platforms.

Investors are rightly beginning to worry. If tech companies and their investors can’t foresee and stop these problems, it will likely lead to damaging regulation, costing them billions.

The rest of us are increasingly unhappy that internet giants refuse to take responsibility. The argument that the problem lies with third-party abuse of their tools is wearing thin, not just with the media and politicians, but increasingly with the public as well.

If the tech giants don’t want regulators to step in and police, they need to do much more to predict, and stop the abuse, before it even happens.

One hundred cardboard cutouts of Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg stand outside the US Capitol in Washington, DC, April 10, 2018.
Advocacy group Avaaz is calling attention to what the groups says are hundreds of millions of fake accounts still spreading disinformation on Facebook. (Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

The common factor in social media scandals

The problems mentioned above weren’t caused by anybody breaking existing social network rules. Nor were they about hacking data, in the true meaning of a ‘hack’ which involves stealing data.

These scandals are better understood as a political smear campaign. If you’ve seen a good political smear campaign, you’ll know smears are funny, interesting and shareable. Just like a good meme.

US President Lyndon Johnson was expert at smearing his opponents. As Hunter S Thompson reported:

“The race was close and Johnson was getting worried. Finally he told his campaign manager to start a massive rumor campaign about his opponent’s life-long habit of enjoying carnal knowledge of his barnyard sows.

“Christ, we can’t get away with calling him a pig-f****r,” the campaign manager protested. “Nobody’s going to believe a thing like that.”

“I know,” Johnson replied. “But let’s make the sonofab****h deny it.”

The fundamentals of a good smear campaign is what underlies many of the abuses we see on Facebook today. Sometimes the pernicious story has a kernel of truth. Sometimes it’s entirely rubbish. But that misses the point.

For a smear to work, it just has to be shared. Facebook, YouTube and Twitter all reward content that’s shared.<

More sharing, reaches more people directly – that’s the nature of social media.

Therein lies the problem. A story that’s funny and shocking (i.e. shareable) is more likely to be recommended by YouTube, is cheaper to advertise and indexes better on Google.

Of course, this has been understood for years. You can even buy guides to it.

Ryan Holliday’s hilarious and disturbing Trust Me I’m Lying, explains how he would graffiti his own client’s posters at night, to create controversy and shareability. Holliday would then anonymously share photos of these defaced posters into Facebook groups, forums and Twitter to stoke up fights, encouraging both sides to get outraged.

Outrage meant lots of sharing on social networks, and can even be a springboard into national media.

Nothing Holliday did was illegal, or even broke social network rules. But it was clearly abuse of social networks, and ultimately damaging to society, because it created controversy where none previously existed. What would you rather society concentrate on? Schools, jobs, hospitals, or the latest social media blowup?

Beyond purely stirring up controversy, there are also plenty of technical tricks to get your smears to take off.  And social networks are good at finding things like fake profiles, data scraping and traditional hacking.

But new problems are constantly being created, and to regulators, it appears the tech companies aren’t learning from their mistakes.

Image courtesy TechCrunch/Bryce Durbin

Why is this?

Technology companies simply have the wrong culture to fix this sort of problem. Technologists inevitably focus on technical abuses.  Employing armies of fact-checkers is an important response to fake news, but ask any political strategist how to tackle a smear.  They won’t say ‘counter with the truth’, because that can embed the lie, rather than stop it. Consider politicians and pigs.

This is a different sort of abuse. Almost every important abuse mentioned here involves somebody using the tools in a way that nobody at Facebook anticipated.

Facebook built an incredible engine to use the data it knows about people, to improve advertising targeting. But that same engine can also be used by companies more commonly associated with military-style psychological warfare against populations and armies.

Technology companies are always going to struggle with social problems. Engineers have a different type of devious mind from political strategists and online conmen.

Luckily we already have a model for this.

White hat hackers have existed for decades. The internet giants reward smart ‘friendly’ hackers, and pay them to find and then help plug security holes.

Image courtesy TechCrunch/Bryce Durbin

Our proposal: ‘White hat’ Cambridge Analytica

All the social networks need to do, is to start paying bonuses to the world’s most devious political and social media strategists. People who would otherwise be using social networks for dodgy clients.

Pay them to find weaknesses in Facebook, just as tech companies pay bonuses for exposing technical flaws in software.
Everybody wins from this. Facebook would be able to fix problems before they are widely exploited. And as a bonus they would be diverting some consultants from a life of, almost, crime. Facebook’s investors would be reassured of fewer scandals, and less risk of costly regulation.

And the rest of us would benefit from Facebook starting to act its age.

Source: Tech Crunch

Scaleway refreshes entry-level cloud instances

Cloud-hosting company Scaleway is upgrading its entry-level instances today. These instances are now all equipped with DDR4 ECC RAM, NVMe SSD storage and AMD EPYC CPUs. As INpact Hardware noted, the company is betting on AMD across the board.

The cheapest instance now costs €2.99 per month ($3.38). For that price, you get 2 CPU cores, 2GB of RAM, 20GB of storage and 100Mbps of bandwidth. There’s no direct equivalent in the previous lineup as it’s a new price point for the company.

Before today, you could get a server with 1GB of RAM for €1.99 per month, or 2GB of RAM for €3.99 per month, but with more storage and bandwidth too. It remains a solid deal for personal use cases, experiments and servers that don’t get a lot of traffic.

The three new instances in the ‘DEV1’ category cost €7.99 per month ($9) for 3 cores, 4GB of RAM, 40GB of storage and 200Mbps of bandwidth, €15.99 ($18) for 4 cores, 8GB of RAM, 80GB of storage, 300Mbps of bandwidth, and €23.99 ($27) for 4 cores, 12GB of RAM, 120GB of storage and 400Mbps of bandwidth.

If you want more cores and more memory, you need to look at the high-performance instances. If you’re out of storage, you don’t necessarily need to upgrade to a more expensive instance. You can buy block storage per 50GB increments for €1 per month.

With today’s update, Scaleway has now completed its lineup refresh. Older instances will be slowly phased out. Now let’s see if the company plans to open new data centers around the world with these new servers.

Source: Tech Crunch

Boston Dynamics puts its wheeled-robot Handle to work in a warehouse

Boston Dynamics deputed Handle two years back. Since then, however, the bipedal wheeled robot has taken a backseat to the rest of the company’s offering. While the ‘bot is no less impressive than the rest of its lineup, Boston Dynamics’ video output has almost exclusively been dedicated to Atlas and Spot/Spot Mini.

Today, however, the robot gets a bit more time to shine — albeit in slightly less glamorous circumstances. A new video offers a better look at the robot’s cargo carrying abilities, this time in a warehouse setting. The initial video showed how the robot was capable of picking up 100 pound crates, and now we’re seeing what it might look like the put the robot to work.

The “reimagined” version of the robot has some clear differences from its predecessor. It appears to be larger and, more strikingly, its twin arms have been replaced by a large, overhead suction cup gripper. This time out, lifts are limited to 30 pounds, though the boxes in the video weigh around 12. Even so, the dexterity, reach and balance of the robots deployed in the video are quite impressive at first glance.

According to the company, “Handle autonomously performs mixed SKU pallet building and depalletizing after initialization and localizing against the pallets. The on-board vision system on Handle tracks the marked pallets for navigation and finds individual boxes for grasping and placing.”

Last year at our Berkeley Robotics event, the company announced plans to commercialize Spot Mini. The robot is set for sale later this year, and is part of a new found focus on product monetization that appears to have been been a part of becoming part of a larger organization — first Google, then Softbank.

Of course, this video shouldn’t be taken a definitely sign that the company is moving in that direction, and besides, it’s hard to imagine a robot as advanced as handle not being prohibitively expensive for most warehouse. Still, at a time when most warehouse robots are essentially autonomous carts, there’s something to be said for a fast moving robot capable of actually picking products off of shelves.

Source: Tech Crunch

How to file taxes on your cryptocurrency trades in a bear year

Fred traded bitcoin, ether and a handful of other cryptocurrencies on Gemini, Binance and Coinbase last year. Unfortunately, due to the crypto downturn, his trading yielded a capital loss of more than $35,000. He’s not alone — the stories have been coming out right and left about people who are not already rich, who have lost serious money lately.

While it was a rough loss, filing taxes could add another headache in a few weeks if not done correctly.

Given that bitcoin is down 55 percent year-over-year in 2018, compared to 686 percent up the year before, chances are that filing taxes on crypto trades may look quite different this year for crypto holders like Fred.

The main difference is that users will want to claim capital losses in a bear year to reduce their tax bill. That means ensuring that you are maximizing your capital loss claims to the greatest potential by:

  • Offsetting capital gains in other asset classes in the same tax year
  • Using the remainder of losses to offset up to $3,000 of other income ($1,500 if you’re married and filing separately)
  • Rolling over any remaining capital losses to future years

Capital loss example

To get an understanding of how powerful this is, let’s take an example. Imagine Maya earned $5,000 in the stock market in 2018, but lost $9,000 in cryptocurrency trading in the same year. Without filing cryptocurrency taxes, Maya would be on the hook for capital gains taxes on $5,000 from the stock market. At the 24 percent short-term tax rate, that would be $1,200 ($5,000 * 24 percent) to pay in taxes!

Now, taking into account the $9,000 crypto capital loss, all $5,000 of capital gains in the stock market would be offset, leaving an additional $4,000 of losses. Because Maya is single, an additional $3,000 of income could be offset (which normally would also be taxed at 24 percent). Therefore, you would save $1,200 of taxes (from the stock market) and $720 ($3,000 * 24 percent) that would have been paid in income tax, for a total of $1,920 saved in taxes. And, on top of that, Maya would still have an incremental $1,000 ($9,000 – $5,000 – $3,000) of capital losses that could be rolled forward to the 2019 tax year to offset capital gains (and potentially income) the next year as well. Not bad.

2018 tax changes

The last year brought many new cryptocurrency trading pairs versus earlier years, as well as more transactions on more exchanges. This means, more than ever, you’ll want to ensure that you have all your accounts or records from all the accounts handy.

There are also regulatory differences as well. This year for U.S. holders, the IRS has clarified that like-kind exchanges only apply to real property (like real estate). That means that cryptocurrency-to-cryptocurrency trades in 2018 are subject to capital gains calculations, not just when you cash out to fiat currency (e.g. USD) at the end of the day.

According to IRS guidance, all virtual currencies are taxed as property, whether you hold bitcoin, ether or any other cryptocurrency. With the new clarification that like-kind exchange does not apply to cryptocurrency, this means you need to have solid records of every cryptocurrency transaction you made, including crypto-to-crypto transactions.

Keeping track of all of these individual transactions can turn into a nightmare scenario depending on your trade history; however, it is important to have a record of all your transactions so you can file your IRS Form 8949, the capital gains tax form. New tools are also starting to be built to help automate the tracking, record-keeping and tax form generation for your cryptocurrency taxes.

My company, CoinTracker, is one — and Fred is a real client. He’s preparing his taxes now: he will be able to wipe all his capital gains clear for 2018, offset $3,000 of income, and also rollover all the rest of the capital gains to future years. While he doesn’t know the full amount in savings yet because he hasn’t finished his taxes, it will likely end up being thousands of dollars.


In the event that you are a cryptocurrency miner, the IRS counts mined cryptocurrency as taxable income. The mined coins are included in gross income and taxed based on the fair market value of the coins at the time they are received. The filing method will depend on whether you are a hobbyist or business miner, which depends on factors such as the manner of the mining, the expertise of the taxpayer and the amount of profits.

Hobbyists will add the income to their Form 1040 and not be subject to self-employment taxes, though not have as many deductions available. Business miners will include their income and expenses on Schedule C and their income will be subject to 15.3 percent self-employment tax (though will be able to claim deductions against income).

Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only. For tax advice, please consult a tax professional.

Source: Tech Crunch

Digging into Apple’s media transformation

Extra Crunch offers members the opportunity to tune into conference calls led and moderated by the TechCrunch writers you read every day. This week, TechCrunch Editor-in-Chief, Matthew Panzarino, offered his analysis on the major announcements that came out of Apple’s keynote event this past Monday.

Behind a series of new subscription and media products, Apple has set the stage for one of the largest transformations in the company’s history. Matthew touches on all of Apple’s major product initiatives including Apple’s new credit card, its push into original content, its subscription gaming platform, and its subscription news service, which features Extra Crunch as one of the debut publications.

“I don’t think many of the things that Apple announced here, on an individual basis, are earth-shattering. I think it shapes up to be a really solid, nice offering for people with some distinct advantages but at the same time it’s not breaking huge molds here. I think the same thing applies across all of the offerings that they put out there.

I just felt that together, it’s solid but not scintillating and we need to see how they develop, how they launch, and then what they do with these platforms…

…Seems relatively straightforward. However, some of the stuff people have glossed over is very intriguing.”

Matthew goes into more detail on why he didn’t view the announcements as individually earth-shattering, and why he sees compelling opportunities for Apple to position its offerings as a symbiotic ecosystem. He also goes under the hood to discuss some of Apple’s overlooked competitive advantages in media and to paint a picture of how Apple’s new product lines might evolve in the long-term.

For access to the full transcription and the call audio, and for the opportunity to participate in future conference calls, become a member of Extra Crunch. Learn more and try it for free. 

Source: Tech Crunch