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Why Did Someone Pay $560,000 for a Picture of My Column?

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$98,000.

$143,000.

$277,000.

After more than 30 bids, the auction ended at 12:32 p.m. Eastern time, with a winning bid of 350 ether, or about $560,000. A few minutes later, after the auction platform had taken its cut, nearly $500,000 in cryptocurrency landed in my digital wallet. I was stunned. Congratulatory texts and media requests started pouring in. My colleagues joked about stiffing the charity and slipping off to the Cayman Islands. My editor said I shouldn’t expect a raise.

The whole ordeal was surreal, and it raised the question: Why would anyone spend the price of a high-end Lamborghini on a picture of my words? After all, the NFT was just a cryptographic signature linked to an image of a column that anyone could read on the Times’s website, albeit with a few bonus perks. (I also stipulated that I would feature the winner’s name and photo in a follow-up column, and Michael Barbaro, the host of “The Daily,” gamely agreed to throw in a voice message for the winner.)

The winner, whose handle on the auction site was @3fmusic, appeared to be a prominent NFT collector. The profile on the site was linked to a Twitter profile belonging to a Dubai-based music production company, and to an Instagram account identified as that of Farzin Fardin Fard, the company’s chief executive. The user’s NFT collection included a variety of other expensive digital works, including a $14,000 “emoji portrait” of the musician Billie Eilish and a $8,000 piece titled “Jumping Spider enjoying coffee in the morning.”

I reached out to @3fmusic to offer my congratulations on the purchase and to discuss the bid. They (it’s not clear if the winner is Mr. Fard or some other individual or multiple people) declined to be named — and, because of the pseudonymous nature of blockchain-based transactions, there’s no easy way for me to identify them beyond the information they volunteered — but they sent me a statement over Twitter direct message that read:

“We are already involved in art and media for a long time now,” the message read. “Our management team is always in cooperation with some highly knowledgeable and experienced art advisers who believe that we must grow with technological movements that help us to not only promote our business but also to support artists and the art market. Thus, we have proudly decided to dedicate sufficient funds and resources to invest in NFT as pioneers of this industry.”

They also gave me permission to include an image of their music studio’s logo in this column.

Jiannan Ouyang, a NFT collector who dropped out of the auction after a high bid of 290 ether (about $469,000) told me that he had decided to bid on my NFT for both personal and professional reasons. He’s a former Facebook research scientist who is now a blockchain entrepreneur, and he’s married to a journalist.



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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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