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Lars Ulrich Interviews Billy Corgan: Smashing Pumpkins Reunion

It’s Electric! host Lars Ulrich chats with Billy Corgan about the Smashing Pumpkins reunion, recording with Rick Rubin and Metallica’s influence.

 

On his birthday on March 26, 2016, original guitarist James Iha joined Billy Corgan, Jimmy Chamberlin, and Jeff Schroeder on stage unannounced at the Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. He performed a few songs, including “Mayonaise”, “Soma” and “Whir” marking his first appearance with the Smashing Pumpkins in 16 years.[105] Iha also played at the second of the two Smashing Pumpkins shows at the Ace Hotel the following day, which was Easter Sunday. Iha joined the Pumpkins for a third time at their April 14 concert at the Civic Opera House in Chicago.[106] In July, Corgan began hinting of the possibility of reuniting the band original lineup, of himself, Iha, Wretzky, and Chamberlin,[107] and in August, he stated he had begun reaching out to the original lineup about the feasibility of a reunion, including speaking to Wretzky for the first time in sixteen years.[108] Despite the comments, Corgan would spend much of 2017 working on solo material – recording and releasing the solo album Ogilala and beginning work on another solo album for 2018.[109] In June 2017 Chamberlin also mentioned the possibility of a reunion tour in 2018.[110] In January 2018 Corgan shared a photo of himself, Iha, and Chamberlin together in recording studio.[111] In February 2018 Corgan announced that he was working with music producer Rick Rubin on a future Smashing Pumpkins albums, that there were currently 26 songs he was actively working on, and that “the guitar feels once again like the preferred weapon of choice.”[112] Soon afterwards, Corgan shared a photo of sound equipment with Iha’s name on a label, as well as announcing recording was finished on the upcoming album.[113]

On February 15, 2018, the band officially announced that founding members Iha and Chamberlin were back in the band. They will embark on the “Shiny and Oh So Bright Tour” starting in July, with a focus on performing material from their first five studio albums.[114][115] Original bassist D’arcy Wretzky claimed she had been offered a contract to rejoin the band but Corgan rescinded the offer soon after.[116] Corgan released a statement denying the claims, stating “Ms. Wretzky has repeatedly been invited out to play with the group, participate in demo sessions, or at the very least, meet face-to-face, and in each and every instance she always deferred”.[117] Jack Bates (son of Joy Division bassist Peter Hook) will play bass on the tour. Bates previously toured with the Smashing Pumpkins in 2015.[118][119]

In March 2018, Corgan mentioned the band planned to release two EP’s in 2018, with the first tentatively planned for May.

 

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Gadgets – TechCrunch Devin Coldewey

In a move seemingly designed specifically to frustrate law enforcement, Apple is adding a security feature to iOS that totally disables data being sent over USB if the device isn’t unlocked for a period of 7 days. This spoils many methods for exploiting that connection to coax information out of the device without the user’s consent.

The feature, called USB Restricted Mode, was first noticed by Elcomsoft researchers looking through the iOS 11.4 code. It disables USB data (it will still charge) if the phone is left locked for a week, re-enabling it if it’s unlocked normally.

Normally when an iPhone is plugged into another device, whether it’s the owner’s computer or another, there is an interchange of data where the phone and computer figure out if they recognize each other, if they’re authorized to send or back up data, and so on. This connection can be taken advantage of if the computer being connected to is attempting to break into the phone.

USB Restricted Mode likely a response to the fact that iPhones seized by law enforcement or by malicious actors like thieves essentially will sit and wait patiently for this kind of software exploit to be applied to them. If an officer collects a phone during a case, but there are no known ways to force open the version of iOS it’s running, no problem: just stick it in evidence and wait until some security contractor sells the department a 0-day.

But what if, a week after that phone was taken, it shut down its own Lightning port’s ability to send or receive data or even recognize it’s connected to a computer? That would prevent the law from ever having the opportunity to attempt to break into the device unless they move with a quickness.

On the other hand, had its owner simply left the phone at home while on vacation, they could pick it up, put in their PIN, and it’s like nothing ever happened. Like the very best security measures, adversaries will curse its name while users may not even know it exists. Really, this is one of those security features that seems obvious in retrospect and I would not be surprised if other phone makers copy it in short order.

Had this feature been in place a couple years ago, it would have prevented that entire drama with the FBI. It milked its ongoing inability to access a target phone for months, reportedly concealing its own capabilities the while, likely to make it a political issue and manipulate lawmakers into compelling Apple to help. That kind of grandstanding doesn’t work so well on a 7-day deadline.

It’s not a perfect solution, of course, but there are no perfect solutions in security. This may simply force all iPhone-related investigations to get high priority in courts, so that existing exploits can be applied legally within the 7-day limit (and, presumably, every few days thereafter). All the same, it should be a powerful barrier against the kind of eventual, potential access through undocumented exploits from third parties that seems to threaten even the latest models and OS versions.

Gadgets – TechCrunch John Biggs

The whole-home wireless craze peaked and waned last year with the rise of Orbi, Eero, Google WiFi, and Linksys’ Velop. These routers use mesh technology to blanket your home in soft, velvety Wi-Fi, ensuring that everything from the front camera/lamp to the Wi-Fi-connected grill in the back yard are connected to the Internet. I’ve tested a number of these so far and have settled on Orbi as the best of the bunch but the original tri-band Velop was excellent and this dual-band model – a cheaper but still speedy whole home solution – has maintained quality and value and holds the crown for the cheapest – and best – mesh network you can buy.

This new mesh kit, the Velop AC3900, costs $299 and is slightly smaller than the original AC4400, a tri-band solution that started at $349 for three units. Considering most routers hover around the $100 mark with some falling as low as $20, it was a hard sell and the story manufacturers told – your Wi-Fi was insufficient for your home and you needed multiple little routers instead of one in the living room – didn’t quite resonate. Linksys reacted to this by releasing this smaller, cheaper model onto a single-router world.

The result is the AC3900, a shorter, smaller device that can hide in your home (as long as its near an electrical outlet) or sit out as a high-design techno-tchotchke. The Velop can blanket up to 4,500 square feet and even act as a wired router for standalone devices. Setup is as easy as pulling a single unit out of the box and connecting to it while running the Linksys app. You can then add more units throughout the home.

The AC3900 devices are a few inches shorter than the AC4400 and they are missing a few of the high-end bells and whistles of the original models. First, these routers have less memory than the original models, with system memory halving from the original 512MB down to 256MB and internal Flash memory falling from 4GB to 256MB. The router also supports only two simultaneous bands while the original model supported three simultaneous bands. In practice I saw solid performance out of both models with the AC3900 maxing out at about 900Mbps internal network speeds which equates to some excellent Internet speeds when the entire system is working. Interestingly, you can also ask your voice assistants to turn on or off Velop’s guest network, a cute feature for when visitors come over.

The real question most people have regarding these whole home solutions is whether they work and whether they’re worth it. Most of them, except for a few exceptions I discovered in my trials, work very, very well. Velop is easy to set up – you just place it in a room and press a button – and once it’s installed you’ll throw away all of your other routers. For years I placed a single router in my living room and used some Apple Airports and wireline networking to connect things up to my attic. Now with mesh networking I get a solid signal throughout the house and even in the back yard.

The AC3900 comes with three units and costs the same as Linksys’ dual-unit AC4400. While the AC4400 are ostensibly better I would argue that the AC3900 is about the same and the added benefit of an extra unit makes the whole-home Internet even more widespread. Mesh routers are the way to go and this is a great way to try them out.

The only thing you really need to know about these units is that they work. Whether you’re dropping a bunch of Netgear Orbis around your house or starting up a Google Wifi unit, mesh networks make your wireless experience much better. Linksys, to their credit, just made that experience a little cheaper.

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Gadgets – TechCrunch Matt Burns

The headphone jack could still have a future in an iPhone. These leaked pics show an iPhone SE 2 with a glass back and headphone jack. Like the current iPhone SE, the design seems to be a take on the classic iPhone 5. I dig it.

The leak also states the upcoming device sports wireless charging, which puts it inline with the iPhone 8 and iPhone X.

Rumors have long stated that Apple was working on an updated iPhone SE. The original was released in March 16 and updated a year later with improved specs. With a 4-inch screen, the iPhone SE is the smallest iPhone Apple offers and also the cheapest.

WWDC in early June is the next major Apple event and could play host for the launch of this phone. Last month, around the iPhone SE’s birthday, Apple held a special event in a Chicago school to launch an education-focused iPad. It’s logical that Apple pushed the launch of this new iPhone SE to WWDC to give the iPad event breathing room.

While Apple cut the headphone jack from its flagship devices, the SE looks to retain the connection. It makes sense. The low-cost iPhone is key for Apple in growing markets across the world where the last two models helped grow iOS’s market penetration. This is Apple’s low-cost offering and thus suggests Apple doesn’t expect buyers to also spring for its wireless earbuds.

If released at WWDC or later in the year, the iPhone SE looks to serve consumers who enjoy smaller phones with headphone jacks. That’s me.

Gadgets – TechCrunch Matt Burns

The headphone jack could still have a future in an iPhone. These leaked pics show an iPhone SE 2 with a glass back and headphone jack. Like the current iPhone SE, the design seems to be a take on the classic iPhone 5. I dig it.

The leak also states the upcoming device sports wireless charging, which puts it inline with the iPhone 8 and iPhone X.

Rumors have long stated that Apple was working on an updated iPhone SE. The original was released in March 16 and updated a year later with improved specs. With a 4-inch screen, the iPhone SE is the smallest iPhone Apple offers and also the cheapest.

WWDC in early June is the next major Apple event and could play host for the launch of this phone. Last month, around the iPhone SE’s birthday, Apple held a special event in a Chicago school to launch an education-focused iPad. It’s logical that Apple pushed the launch of this new iPhone SE to WWDC to give the iPad event breathing room.

While Apple cut the headphone jack from its flagship devices, the SE looks to retain the connection. It makes sense. The low-cost iPhone is key for Apple in growing markets across the world where the last two models helped grow iOS’s market penetration. This is Apple’s low-cost offering and thus suggests Apple doesn’t expect buyers to also spring for its wireless earbuds.

If released at WWDC or later in the year, the iPhone SE looks to serve consumers who enjoy smaller phones with headphone jacks. That’s me.

Gadgets – TechCrunch Jordan Crook

Apple is offering free battery replacements for some 13-inch MacBook Pro (without Touch Bar) laptops that may have a faulty component.

The company announced recently that a limited number of these devices have a component that may fail, which would case the original built-in battery to expand. While Apple says this isn’t a safety issue, it wants to solve the problem as quickly as possible with free battery replacements.

The models that might be affected were manufactured between October 2016 and October 2017.

Think your MacBook Pro might be eligible?

Apple has set up a website for the replacement program where users can input their device’s serial number to check for eligibility. 

This isn’t the first time Apple has offered a battery replacement. In fact, Apple famously found itself in hot water last year when users learned that the company was slowing down older iPhones in an attempt to save power on older batteries. The company responded by offering $29 battery replacement in iPhones.

Gadgets – TechCrunch John Biggs

Skagen is a well-know maker of thin and uniquely Danish watches. Founded in 1989, the company is now part of the Fossil group and, as such, has begin dabbling in both the analog with the Hagen and now Android Wear with the Falster. The Falster is unique in that it stuffs all of the power of a standard Android Wear device into a watch that mimics the chromed aesthetic of Skagen’s austere design while offering just enough features to make you a fashionable smartwatch wearer.

The Falster, which costs $275 and is available now, has a fully round digital OLED face which means you can read the time at all times. When the watch wakes up you can see an ultra bright white on black time-telling color scheme and then tap the crown to jump into the various features including Android Fit and the always clever Translate feature that lets you record a sentence and then show it the person in front of you.

You can buy it with a leather or metal band and the mesh steel model costs $20 extra.

Sadly, in order stuff the electronics into such a small case, Skagen did away with GPS, LTE connectivity, and even a heart-rate monitor. In other words if you were expecting a workout companion then the Falster isn’t the Android you’re looking for. However, if you’re looking for a bare-bones fashion smartwatch, Skagen ticks all the boxes.

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What you get from the Flasterou do get, however, is a low-cost, high-style Android Wear watch with most of the trimmings. I’ve worn this watch off and on few a few weeks now and, although I do definitely miss the heart rate monitor for workouts, the fact that this thing looks and acts like a normal watch 99% of the time makes it quite interesting. If obvious brand recognition nee ostentation are your goal, the Apple Watch or any of the Samsung Gear line are more your style. This watch, made by a company famous for its Danish understatement, offers the opposite of that.

Skagen offers a few very basic watch faces with the Skagen branding at various points on the dial. I particularly like the list face which includes world time or temperature in various spots around the world, offering you an at-a-glance view of timezones. Like most Android Wear systems you can change the display by pressing and holding on the face.

It lasts about a day on one charge although busy days may run down the battery sooner as notifications flood the screen. The notification system – essentially a little icon that appears over the watch face – sometimes fails and instead shows a baffling grey square. This is the single annoyance I noticed, UI-wise, when it came to the Falster. It works with both Android smartphones and iOS.

What this watch boils down to is an improved fitness tracker and notification system. If you’re wearing, say, a Fitbit, something like the Skagen Falster offers a superior experience in a very chic package. Because the watch is fairly compact (at 42mm I won’t say it’s small but it would work on a thinner wrist) it takes away a lot of the bulk of other smartwatches and, more important, doesn’t look like a smartwatch. Those of use who don’t want to look like we’re wearing robotic egg sacs on our wrists will enjoy that aspect of Skagen’s effort, even without all the trimmings we expect from a modern smartwatch.

Skagen, like so many other watch manufacturers, decided if it couldn’t been the digital revolution it would join it. The result is the Falster and, to a lesser degree, their analog collections. Whether or not traditional watchmakers will survive the 21st century is still up in the air but, as evidenced by this handsome and well-made watch, they’re at least giving it the old Danish try.

Gadgets – TechCrunch Romain Dillet

Apple is doing it again. The company just unveiled a new version of the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. It has a bright red enclosure and a black front. A portion of Apple’s proceeds will fund HIV/AIDS grants from the Global Fund.

Other than that, it’s an iPhone 8. You’ll get the exact same features and components as in other iPhone 8 models. The iPhone 8 is also available in gold, silver and (“space”) gray. Alas, there’s still no rose gold option.

When Apple unveiled the red version of the iPhone 7, many people didn’t understand why Apple put white bezels at the front of the device. Red and black seem like a good match. That’s why some people even bought screen protectors with black borders to fix this.

This year, Apple is switching to black. It’s interesting to see that Apple waits around 6 months before launching red versions of its iPhones. It could be a way to foster sales in the middle of a product cycle.

The red iPhone 8 is going to start at $699 with 64GB just like regular iPhone 8 models. There will be 256GB versions too. Pre-orders start tomorrow and you’ll be able to buy it in Apple stores on Friday.

For iPhone X users, Apple is launching a dark red leather folio. Apple is also sharing some numbers about its partnership with (PRODUCT)RED. Since 2006, Apple has donated $160 million to the Global Fund through limited edition iPods, iPhones and accessories.

Gadgets – TechCrunch Romain Dillet

According to a new report from Bloomberg, Apple could be working on new gestures for its iPhones. In addition to normal touch gestures, iOS could detect when you hover your finger over the screen to trigger some actions.

When Steve Jobs introduced the first iPhone, he spent quite a bit of time demonstrating the multitouch interface. You could touch the screen with your finger without applying any pressure, which was already something new back then. You could also swipe your finger on the screen, use multiple fingers in order to pinch to zoom or rotate a photo.

Starting with the iPhone 6S, Apple also introduced another gesture with 3D Touch. By applying some pressure on the screen, you can preview a photo or an email, open a shortcut menu and more. The iPhone detects multiple levels of pressure so that you can first preview and then open a document.

According to Bloomberg, upcoming iPhones could also detect touchless gestures right above the display. It’s unclear how Apple plans to use those new gestures when it comes to software implementation. This feature won’t be ready for this year’s new iPhones.

Bloomberg also says that Apple has been experimenting with curved iPhones. But they won’t look like the Samsung Galaxy S9 as Apple is thinking about a banana-shaped iPhone from top to bottom.

Finally, Bloomberg confirms KGI Securities’ report about this year’s iPhone lineup. Apple is working on three new devices — an updated iPhone X, a new iPhone that looks like an iPhone X but is cheaper thanks to an LCD display, and a larger version of the updated iPhone X.

The larger version could feature a 6.5-inch OLED display. This number seems insane given that the first iPhone only had a 3.5-inch screen. But people spend so much time on their phone that there should be a market for this huge phone.

Gadgets – TechCrunch Matt Burns

The latest update to macOS provides support for external graphics card. Apple announced this would hit the OS last June at WWDC and now it’s finally here. The update allows Mac users to increase the graphical processing power through an external graphics card connected through Thunderbolt 3.

Perviously users had to buy an eGPU dev kit from Apple or employ unofficial means to enable external graphics cards, which meant Apple wouldn’t bail them out if something happened. The additional horsepower isn’t needed for general use, but the added graphics cards supercharge Macs for VR, rendering and gaming. Only a handful of eGPUs are compatible with macOS so choose carefully before adding one to your rig.

The feature comes from the High Sierra 10.13.4 Combo Update which also adds Business Chat in Messages, a new iTunes and a super handy feature to Safari in which users can jump to the right-most open tab by using Command+9.