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Read This If You’re Clueless About Discord

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The talking and texting app Discord is popular with video gamers who use it to plot strategy for blowing up virtual enemies.

But Mieke Göttsche and Bianca Visagie, avid readers from South Africa, use Discord for hosting thoughtful book club discussions.

I spoke with Göttsche and Visagie to better understand the appeal of Discord and why it has been in deal talks with Microsoft for a transaction that could top $10 billion. Talking through how their book club uses the app helped me to better understand what the fuss is about.

They said that they had considered hosting book discussions on Zoom and tried Instagram group gatherings, but Discord was the ideal combination of flexible, collaborative and relatively easy to use.

“Discord seemed to be the most expansive, and we could talk about multiple topics at once,” said Göttsche, who is 25 and completing her master’s degree in children’s and young adult literature.

Like group texts with family — but organized

Göttsche and Visagie walked me through how their Read Better Book Club uses Discord. Think of the app as like running group texts with your family members, except meticulously organized by topic and with options to seamlessly jump from text to voice chat.

Each month’s book selection has its own text thread, called a channel. The women subdivide each book into four parts, and participants hop on Discord at the same time each Monday to discuss the chapters, mostly in furious back-and-forths of texts and emojis.

“I sit in my bed each Monday at 11 p.m. and chat about books that I love,” Visagie, who is 24 and lives outside Johannesburg, told me in a conversation in Discord.

Quiet members are welcome, too

Göttsche and Visagie tell participants that they should feel free to just observe. That’s more welcoming for some readers. (A library in Ontario hosts a text-based “Introverts Book Club” on Discord.)

Within their book club, there are multiple channels, including one for members to tell a little about themselves, and another for those who play the collaborative online game Among Us to have group voice calls about what’s happening.

The channel “Currently Reading” hosts discussions of books other than that month’s selection. Recently there was a debate about whether it’s worthwhile to keep slogging through books or add them to a “DNF” (did not finish) pile.

With tools to hide spoilers

They also make use of a feature on Discord to avoid ruining plot twists. One club member asked in “Currently Reading” whether anyone had read “Legendborn,” a young adult fantasy novel. Visagie replied that she had, with details of what she thought of the book — but she opted to blackout her text so people didn’t see spoilers. Only people who clicked on Visagie’s post could read her full message.

Discord is most commonly used by video gamers to collaborate on multiplayer games, but people also use its screen sharing feature to play board games and students have used it to work together on homework. (Discord has also struggled with people using its app for harm.)

A ‘saving grace’ during a tough year

Göttsche and Visagie both blog about books and started the club last year when they found that pandemic life left them less able to remember and digest what they were reading.

Like many others who found virtual communities in the last year, the book club proved especially valuable as normal life was disrupted. Göttsche finished her master’s program in Ireland mostly virtually. And Visagie has put on hold her plan to move to China after she recently finished her master’s degree.

“I miss the physical interaction,” Visagie said, “but the digital book club was a saving grace in the pandemic.”


Intel, one of America’s pioneering technology companies, has lately fallen on its face. Competitors raced ahead in producing the most cutting edge computer chips. It got so bad that Intel lobbied the U.S. government for taxpayer help, and it seemed possible that the company might stop manufacturing at least some of its chips. Can you imagine if Ford had to outsource making cars to Toyota?

But on Tuesday, Intel did something bold. Instead of throwing in the towel on computer chip manufacturing, Intel said it would do the opposite: Go bigger.

The company said it will spend $20 billion to build two new chip factories in Arizona. And in a surprise, my colleague Don Clark wrote, Intel plans to start taking orders to manufacture computer chips for other companies. That’s something that the global chip kings in Taiwan and South Korea do.

Intel’s choice could prove smart or misguided. We’ll see. But you’ve gotta give Intel some credit for chutzpah. We want giant companies to take risks that could pay off — to help themselves, sure, but hopefully that will trickledown into better products for the rest of us.

The timing isn’t bad, either. For both political and business reasons, this may be an ideal moment to go bigger in computer chip manufacturing.

Government officials in the United States and Europe have gotten nervous about pandemic-related shortages of computer chips. They believe that industries and militaries would have more reliable supplies if more chips were made inside their borders and not in Asia.

Intel is essentially promising to give those governments what they want, and the company wants something in return. Don reported that Intel hopes to negotiate with the Biden administration and other governments to get help paying for those chip factories.

  • A financial service that fails to protect people’s money: What happens when young companies are sometimes not good at the basics? My colleague Kellen Browning wrote about horror stories of people whose accounts with the cryptocurrency savings app Coinbase were frozen or plundered by attackers, and they said they couldn’t get Coinbase’s help.

  • A stabbing in Israel that challenges online speech rights: American internet companies have legal protections for what their users say online. But my colleague David McCabe examines a novel legal argument that the powerful algorithms used by Facebook, YouTube and Twitter could make them complicit in offline crimes.

  • Selling a New York Times column, for journalism: My colleague Kevin Roose explains the mania for NFTs, a type of digital collectible that is the newest frontier in the cryptocurrency gold rush. Kevin turned his column into an NFT and will auction it off for charity.

This aging pet spider had a hard time walking up to its favorite plant hangout spot. A little spider ramp helped it find its way. (Thanks to my colleague Adam Pasick for spotting this one. And uhhh, don’t click on it if you’re weirded out by spiders.)


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Apple’s new iPad Pros and TV remote don’t have U1 locators to help find them in your couch

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Apple has been quietly sticking special locator beacon chips into some of its new iPhones that’ll let you unlock your car and find lost items through walls — the latter thanks to the $29 AirTags announced today — but sadly, you won’t find that chip in the new M1-based iPad Pros or the long-awaited new Siri remote for the Apple TV.

Apple confirmed to us that the U1 locator chip, which uses pulses of ultra-wideband (UWB) radio to broadcast its precise location, won’t appear in the Siri remote. We’re waiting on final bulletproof confirmation about the iPad Pros, but it also doesn’t appear in their product page, spec sheet, or press release. Last year’s iP ad Pros didn’t include a U1 chip, either.

Is Apple expecting us to stick AirTags to our iPads and TV remotes to escape the jaws of the ever-ravenous couch? Unlikely, but the company has been pretty choosey about which devices get the chip so far. You can find it in the iPhone 11 and newer (but not the iPhone SE) and the Apple Watch Series 6 (but not the Apple Watch SE), but we’re pretty sure it hasn’t made its way to any iPads or MacBooks that have been announced since the chip’s introduction in September 2019.

Theoretically, Apple could build an ecosystem where any Apple device can easily find any other Apple device (not to mention UWB devices from Samsung, which is also deeply invested in the tech and has its own AirTag-like device as well). But for now, you’ll primarily just be using your phone to find AirTags, not other gadgets, except perhaps your future car.



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Your iPhone has a completely hidden app. Here’s how to find and use it

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Apple’s iPhone is full of hidden features and tricks we’re constantly discovering. For instance, did you know the Notes app has a hidden document scanner? Yeah, pretty cool. The latest hidden feature that’s been popping up on Twitter and blogs is another type of scanner, dedicated to QR codes, and it’s better than the one built into the camera app.

Indeed, you would already be able to filter QR codes utilizing the easy route in Control Center, or simply open the camera application and it will check a QR code. Also, you’re correct. Both of those strategies turn out great. However, the committed Code Scanner application accepts the position above and beyond by introducing a greater amount of the data I need to see about an examined code.

For instance, the camera application utilizes a little notice at the highest point of the screen to open a connection or show you data, though the devoted Code Scanner application makes it exceptionally clear what’s inside the QR code you just checked. Yet, here’s the rub: The Code Scanner application isn’t found on your home screen, nor is it found in iOS 14’s new App Library.

As should be obvious, the best way to discover the Code Scanner application is to utilize the iPhone’s Spotlight search include. Go to your iPhone’s home screen and swipe down in the center of the screen. An inquiry bar will show up at the highest point of your screen, alongside application and alternate route ideas underneath. Type either code or scanner. As you type, you’ll see the Code Scanner application symbol appear as an application idea. Tap to open it.

The flashlight icon at the bottom of the screen acts as a flash to illuminate a code if your phone is struggling to read it.

If you don’t have the QR scanner shortcut added to Control Center yet, here’s a post showing you how to customize Control Center to your liking. For more hidden features, check out our list for iOS 14. We also cover more general, but useful features in iOS 14.



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Mercedes rolls out luxury electric car in duel with Tesla

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Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler AG on Thursday unveiled a battery-powered counterpart to its top Mercedes luxury sedan as German carmakers ramp up their challenge to electric upstart Tesla.

The EQS is the first Mercedes-Benz vehicle to be built on a framework designed from the start as an electric car, rather than using components from an internal-combustion vehicle.

Mercedes underscored the car’s technological features by equipping it with a sweeping touchscreen panel that stretches across the entire front of the car’s interior in place of a conventional dashboard. Tesla and other carmakers are also adding large screens to their interiors.

The EQS is the sibling to the company’s S-Class large internal-combustion sedan, the luxury brand’s flagship model that sells for $110,000 and up. The two cars aim at the same upper end of the market, though the EQS is set apart by being built on the company’s electric-vehicle architecture, or EVA. Mercedes isn’t saying yet how much the EQS will cost when it reaches customers later this year.

Daimler said the vehicle will get 770 kilometers (478 miles) on a full charge under testing standards used in the European Union. The company is offering a year’s free charging through Ionity, a network of highway charging stations built by a group of major automakers.

The hyperscreen in the Mercedes EQS is a 56-inch digital display that replaces the conventional dashboard.
The hyperscreen in the Mercedes EQS is a 56-inch digital display that replaces the conventional dashboard.
AP

German carmakers were slower to develop all-electric models until tougher environmental regulations and sales lost to California-based Tesla pushed them to ramp up their efforts. Volkswagen sold 422,000 electric vehicles last year and developed the ID.3, a compact it hopes will win over mass-market buyers, while its Porsche division has come out with the Taycan sports car. BMW launched the iX3 electric SUV.

1.1822258-2757530049 A Mercedes Benz employee work on a production line at the factory in Rastatt, Germany. Daimler AG unveiled a battery-powered counterpart to its top Mercedes-Benz luxury sedan as German carmakers ramp up their challenge to electric upstart Tesla. Image Credit: Reuters

Frankfurt: Daimler AG unveiled a battery-powered counterpart to its top Mercedes-Benz luxury sedan as German carmakers ramp up their challenge to electric upstart Tesla.

The EQS is the first Mercedes-Benz vehicle to be built on a framework designed from the start as an electric car, rather than using components from an internal-combustion vehicle.

Mercedes underscored the car’s technological features by equipping it with a sweeping touchscreen panel that stretches across the entire front of the car’s interior in place of a conventional dashboard. Tesla and other carmakers are also adding large screens to their interiors.

The EQS is the sibling to the company’s S-Class large internal-combustion sedan, the luxury brands flagship model that sells for $110,000 and up. The two cars aim at the same upper end of the market, though the EQS is set apart by being build on the company’s electric-vehicle architecture, or EVA. Mercedes isn’t saying yet how much the EQS will cost when it reaches customers later this year.

Daimler said the vehicle will get 770 kilometers (478 miles) on a full charge under testing standard used in the European Union. The company is offering a year’s free charging through Ionity, a network of highway charging stations built by a group of major automakers.



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