Panasonic makes vacuum gadget to rescue wireless earbuds from train tracks

Photo by Manabu Takahashi/Getty Images Panasonic is working with one of Japan’s biggest railway companies to solve a new problem that has sprung up in recent years: a rise in people dropping wireless earbuds onto train tracks.
JR East, the part of Japan’s formerly private railway group that covers the Tokyo and Tohoku regions of the country, says that there were 950 incidents of dropped earbuds across 78 Tokyo train stations in the July-September quarter, Jiji Press reports. The figure apparently accounts for a quarter of all dropped items.
According to JR East, station staff normally use a grabber-style “magic hand” tool to pick up larger items that fall onto tracks, like hats or smartphones. But the gravel between the rails makes smaller objects — like, say, a left AirPod…
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The Nintendo Switch still keeps selling well

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge Nintendo shipped 6.86 million Switch consoles between July and September, increasing its numbers by more than 40 percent year-on-year and reaching 68.3 million units sold since its launch in 2017. That’s impressive growth for the company, since this quarter last year was a strong one — it saw the launch of the cheaper Switch Lite variant, boosting Nintendo’s shipments by more than 50 percent on 2018.
The Switch figure is also an improvement on the previous quarter, when Nintendo shipped 5.68 million systems. Animal Crossing: New Horizons was a major sales driver then with more than 10 million copies moved, and continued to sell well this past quarter with more than three and a half million units. It’s now sold 26.04 million copies…
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Uber, Lyft drivers aren’t employees after all, California voters say

California voters approved Prop. 22, which would exempt companies such as Uber and Lyft from having to classify their workers as employees, according to The Associated Press. The $200 million campaign in support of the measure was the most expensive in state history.
The ballot measure mandates that drivers for Uber, Lyft and DoorDash will receive new benefits, such as minimum hourly earnings. But drivers won’t get the full protections and benefits that come with employment, as they may have had to under another law, AB5 — which originally took aim at gig work. Labor groups, which opposed the law, raised only a tenth as much money.
Uber and Lyft threatened to leave California — or drastically cut back service — if they were forced to…
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The Raspberry Pi 400 is a compact keyboard with a built-in computer

The Raspberry Pi 400 is a self-contained computer built into a keyboard. | Image: Raspberry Pi The Raspberry Pi Foundation has announced the Raspberry Pi 400, a compact keyboard with an ARM-based computer built in. Just plug it into a TV or monitor using one of its two micro HDMI ports, insert a microSD card, attach a power cord and mouse, and you’ve got yourself a basic computer for day-to-day tasks, coding, or media playback. It’s available starting today as a standalone machine for $70 or in a bundle including a mouse, power supply, microSD card, HDMI cable, and beginner’s guide for $100.
The hope is the Pi 400’s form factor, plus these optional bundled items, makes it more approachable and user-friendly. That’s important when you’re selling an affordable computer, and it’s especially important when you’re selling an accessible…
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The Biden-Harris campaign has launched a ‘Build Back Better’ map in Fortnite

No Malarkey Station appears in the Biden-Harris campaign’s new Fortnite map | Biden campaign With just a few days to go before the November 3rd presidential election, former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign has launched a new custom map in Fortnite. First reported by Mashable, the “Build Back Better with Biden” map is located in “Reboot City,” and is aimed at promoting the campaign’s message that the environment and economy are connected. The solo-player, adventure-type map takes about 20 to 30 minutes to play, and made its debut Friday night.
“Our digital program is built around how people spend time, and the most effective ways reach them in those places,” Christian Tom, the Biden campaign’s director of digital partnerships said in a statement to The Verge. “We see interactive, digital-first experiences like gaming as an…
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It’s Halloween, so here are some mischievous skeletons

Animation: Andre Zimmermann Everyone focuses on what’s blowing up on TikTok, but here’s something that’s been getting a bit of attention over on Byte: some playful little skeletons.
Over the past month, designer Andre Zimmermann has been posting short looping clips of meddlesome skeletons getting into low-stakes hijinks, like running off with food from a table or knocking a plant off a ledge. “They sort of became these jerks,” Zimmermann said. “Like a cat.”
They’re the furthest thing from spooky, but their mischievous antics feel a bit more comforting during what’s already a high-stress Halloween.
Your browser does not support HTML5 video. My favorite of Zimmermann’s not-quite-spooky animations shows a humanoid collection of skulls dancing to a looping disco track….
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The Oculus Quest 2 was preordered five times as much as the original

The Oculus Quest 2 (right) next to the original model. | Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge The new Oculus Quest 2 VR headset was preordered more than five times as much as last year’s original model, Mark Zuckerberg confirmed on Facebook’s earnings call. Zuckerberg characterized the launch of the Quest 2 as the company taking “major steps forward in building the next computing platform.”
“I’ve been very impressed and excited by the progress that our teams have made on this,” Zuckerberg said on the call. “I think that the new Quest 2 product is extraordinary. I love using it. And I’m really proud of the work that we’ve done there.”
It’s not really surprising that there’d be pent-up demand for the Quest 2. The improved standalone headset is shipping with a starting price of $299 — that’s $100 less than the previous model, which…
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Samsung posts highest revenue ever after boost in flagship phone sales

Samsung Electronics has announced quarterly earnings for the July-September 2020 period, making 66.96 trillion won in revenue and 12.35 trillion in operating profit. That’s the highest quarterly revenue figure ever for the Korean electronics giant, which says that it was able to meet a boost in customer demand following COVID-19 disruption.
“Even as the COVID-19 pandemic continues around the world, reopening of key economies led to significant increase in consumer demand,” Samsung says in a statement. “Samsung Electronics was able to respond aggressively through flexible global supply chain management, reporting its highest-ever quarterly revenue.”
Urgent Huawei orders boost memory business Samsung says that an increase in demand for…
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Sony boosts PlayStation profits despite looming PS5 launch

Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge Sony’s gaming division is continuing to drive major profits for the company even as the PlayStation 4 era winds down. The company announced PlayStation-related revenue of 507 billion yen (~$4.9 billion) and an operating profit of 105 billion yen (~$1 billion) for its July-September quarter, respective improvements of 52 and 40 percent on the same period a year ago.
With the PlayStation 5 set to launch in a couple of weeks, normally you’d expect a significant negative impact on Sony’s books for the previous quarter as the company ramps up manufacturing before it starts to bring in more revenue. Sony does say that its profits were hit by an increase in costs, while revenue was reduced by a predictable decrease in PS4 sales. Higher game…
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