Tesla says Model 3 panel quality is now on par with German rivals

Tesla says Model 3 panel quality is now on par with German rivals

When the first everyday Tesla Model 3 buyers received their electric cars, the reports on build quality were… mixed, to put it mildly. A Munro & Associates analysis revealed panel gaps and other imperfections you would have expected from a budget car two decades ago. Tesla, however, wants to let you know that it turned a corner. In a response to a later Munro analysis at Motor Trend, the automaker said it had refined the deviation of panel gaps and offsets had improved by “nearly” 40 percent, to the point where they’re on par with “Audi, BMW and Mercedes.” The aim is to make them “even tighter,” Tesla said.

The company also defended the car against concerns about excess complexity and weight. There’s “always room for refinement,” according to Tesla, but the Model 3 has battery protection concerns that might not be present in other reference cars. It further pointed to government testing showing that the Model S and Model X had the lowest probabilities of injury out of “any cars it had ever tested,” indicating a strong safety pedigree.

The claimed improvements suggest that Tesla’s quality has come a long way since the earliest days of Model 3 production when it was struggling to produce significant volumes of acceptable cars. That’s no mean feat when its manufacturing is ramping up on a week-by-week basis. At the same time, this isn’t entirely reassuring if you’re one of the early adopters. While it’s hard to completely avoid first-year production quirks, the change in quality suggests you’ll be considerably happier with the fit and finish if you’re a patient buyer.


Bill Gates thinks a coming disease could kill 30 million people within 6 months – and says we should prepare for it like we do for war

If there’s one thing that we know from history, a deadly new disease will arise that will spread around the globe.

That could happen easily within the next decade. And as Bill Gates reminded listeners while speaking at a discussion about epidemics hosted by the Massachusetts Medical Society and the New England Journal of Medicine on Friday, we’re not ready.

As Gates said, he’s usually the optimist in the room, reminding people that we’re lifting children out of poverty around the globe and getting better at eliminating diseases like polio and malaria.

But “there’s one area though where the world isn’t making much progress,” said Gates. “And that’s pandemic preparedness.”
The likelihood that such a disease appears continues to rise. New pathogens emerge all the time as the world gets more populous and humanity encroaches on wild environments. It’s becoming easier and easier for individuals or small groups to create weaponized diseases that could spread like wildfire around the globe. According to Gates, a small non-state actor could rebuild an even deadlier form of smallpox in a lab. And in our interconnected world, people constantly hop on planes, crossing from megacities on one continent to megacities on another in a matter of hours.

According to one simulation by the Institute for Disease Modeling presented by Gates, a new flu like the one that killed 50 million in the 1918 pandemic would most likely kill 30 million within just six months now. And the disease that next takes us by surprise will most likely be one that we see for the first time when the outbreak starts, like happened recently with SARS and MERS viruses.

If you were to tell the world’s governments that weapons were under construction right now that could kill 30 million people, there’d be a sense of urgency about preparing for the threat, said Gates.

“In the case of biological threats, that sense of urgency is lacking,” he said. “The world needs to prepare for pandemics in the same serious way it prepares for war.”

Stopping the next pandemic
The one time the military tried a sort of simulated wargame against a smallpox pandemic, the final score was “smallpox one, humanity zero,” according to Gates.
But as he said, he’s an optimist, and he thinks we could better prepare for the next viral or bacterial threat.

In some ways, we’re clearly better prepared now than we were for previous pandemics. We have antiviral drugs that can at least do something to improve survival rates in many cases. We have antibiotics that can treat secondary infections, like pneumonia associated with the flu.

We’re getting closer to a universal flu vaccine. During his talk, Gates announced that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation would be offering $12 million in grants to encourage the development of such a vaccine.

And we’re getting better at rapid diagnosis, too, something essential since the first step against a new disease is quarantine. Just yesterday, a new research paper in the journal Science announced the development of a way to use the gene-editing technology CRISPR to rapidly detect diseases and to identify them using the same sort of paper strip used in a home pregnancy test.

Yet we’re not good enough yet at rapidly identifying the threat from a disease and coordinating a response, as the recent global reaction to the last Ebola epidemic showed.

There needs to be better coordination and communication between military and government to help coordinate responses. And Gates thinks that government needs ways to quickly enlist the help of the private sector when it comes to developing technology and tools to fight against emerging deadly disease.

As Melinda Gates said recently, the threat from a global pandemic – whether one that emerges naturally or one that’s engineered – is perhaps the biggest risk humanity faces right now.

“Think of the number of people who leave New York City every day and go all over the world – we’re an interconnected world,” she said. Those connections make us all vulnerable.


Google’s mysterious ‘Fuchsia’ operating system could run Android apps – and it’s a huge step to prevent a flop

Google is developing a mysterious multi-device operating system called “Fuchsia,” and it looks like the company recently added a feature to the software that could drastically improve its chances of catching on with consumers.

On Thursday, it was revealed by a member of the XDA Developers forum that Google seemingly added native support for Android apps on Fuchsia. In theory, that means Android apps should be able to run on the Fuchsia operating system without much intervention or tweaking from an app developer. And that’s a critical feature.

Letting Android apps run seamlessly on a new operating system will be crucial for Google if it were to replace the Android operating system with the so-called Fuchsia operating system, or even if it wanted to introduce Fuchsia as an alternative to Android.

App developers have shown they’re not so willing to create separate versions of their apps for less popular operating systems. Just look at Microsoft’s Windows Phones, which died out towards the end of 2017. Few were willing to use Windows Phones because comparatively few apps were being made for the Windows Phone operating system.

Without the same offering of apps as Android, the new Fuchsia operating system would likely be doomed to failure, just like Windows Phones. After all, why would anyone use an operating system that doesn’t have the apps they want? That’s what a lot of people thought about Windows Phone.

It’s also not exactly clear what Fuchsia’s purpose is at the moment. From the looks of a YouTube video supposedly showing the Fuschia operating system and posted earlier this year, Fuschia could be an operating system that works across smartphones, tablets, and computers.

It might be mysterious, but Google isn’t being too secretive about Fuschia. Google acknowledged the existence of Fuchsia in 2016, when Android VP of engineering Dave Burke called it an “early-stage experimental project.” Whether it’ll ever emerge from the experimental phase into a fully released operating system is not clear.



Microsoft’s Windows division roars back to life, proving the PC and Xbox are still very much alive

When Microsoft announced its rock-solid quarterly earnings on Thursday, Wall Street analysts were happy to see the continued growth of its cloud computing businesses.

But there was a surprise buried in Microsoft’s earnings statement. After years of stagnation, the More Personal Computing segment saw a gain of 13% over the same period of 2017, hitting $9.9 billion in revenue.

As a refresher, that segment encompasses the Windows operating system, the Surface hardware business, the Xbox gaming division, and the Bing search engine.

With the PC market in steady decline, Sony’s PlayStation 4 crushing the Xbox One console in sales, and Google maintaining its dominance over search, the More Personal Computing segment has largely been discarded by Wall Street as secondary, at best, to Microsoft’s still fast-growing business cloud services.

And yet, there’s clearly some kind of life left in the segment, still. These results serve as at least a partial rebuke to the Microsoft fans who worry that the company is poised to kill the Surface and get out of the consumer hardware business entirely.

Third party games to the rescue

Microsoft itself credits the strength in More Personal Computing to a few different factors.

First, most businesses still need PCs, and they’re moving to Windows 10 in droves. Microsoft says that revenue from selling Windows 10 Pro licenses to Windows manufacturers was up 11% from the same period in 2017, and that revenue from multi-year Windows 10 service agreements and cloud services was up 21% over the same span. It should be noted, however, that revenue from consumer Windows 10 licenses was down 8%.

Second, overall gaming revenue was up 18% over the same period last year, to about $2.2 billion. Some of that gaming growth is from services, like its Twitch competitor Mixer, or the all-you-can-play subscription service Xbox Game Pass. Mostly, though, Microsoft says that the real driver was Xbox software and services, which was up 24% over the same period in 2017, “mostly on third-party strength.”

This is especially interesting: A common criticism of the Xbox One is that Microsoft doesn’t publish enough titles that are exclusive to the console – giving gamers few reasons to choose it over rivals like the Sony PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. However, Microsoft is saying that games from other publishers are selling well enough to bolster Xbox revenue.

Finally, Microsoft says that revenue from its Surface computers was up 29% from the same period of 2017, hitting just shy of $1.1 billion. That’s a good look for Microsoft, after growth in Surface actually stagnatedduring the all-important holiday quarter last year, reinforcing speculation that the business would be discontinued.

There’s still one quarter left to go in Microsoft’s fiscal year, and it remains to be seen if this growth is a sign of things to come, or just a one-time blip as the company continues to go all-in on cloud.

One thing, ultimately, is very clear: With Microsoft’s phone business almost fully unwound, the company is at least not being weighed down by that albatross around its neck anymore.