Tangle-Free Magnetic USB Cables Are Here

The Verge’s Sean Hollister has been testing a number of “nifty” USB cables that magnetically stick to themselves and don’t get all tangled up in your drawers and bags. The only problem is “they all suck big time at data transfer, charging, or both,” he writes. From the report: This one, which also has its own built-in blue LED light and magnetic swappable tips for USB-C, micro-USB, and Lightning, won’t charge most of my USB-C gadgets at all, but I was able to sling some files from an external drive at lackluster USB 2.0 speeds and charge my iPhone over Lightning. It’s also got super weak coiling magnets and felt even cheaper than the rest.

This USB-C to USB-C one was pretty decent at charging, giving me 65W of USB-C PD power and had the best magnets of the bunch — but it wouldn’t connect to a Pixel 4A phone or my USB-C external drive at all. They just didn’t show up on my desktop!

This USB-A to USB-C cable was the worst of the lot. Just wiggling it would disconnect anything I had plugged in, and it topped out at 10W of charging — not the 15-18W I’d usually see with my Pixel.

Lastly, this USB-A to Lightning one seems to be a SuperCalla cable, showing up in an “Original SuperCalla” box, even though it’s sold by a brand named “Tech.” Slow charging, slow data, but at least it seems to stay reliably connected to my iPhone so far.

But those aren’t the only style of magnetic no-tangle cable I found. I also bought this neat accordion-style one, which is perhaps the best of the bunch: I got 15W charging, and it feels better built than the rest. But it’s less fun to play with, the magnets aren’t as strong, and it’s got a bit of an awkward shape when fully extended because the joints will always stick out. Plus, it tops out at USB 2.0 speeds of 480Mbps (or around 42MB/s in practice.) I couldn’t find a C-to-C or Lightning version. […] Right now, all I’ve found are these cheap-o, $10 novelty cables, and that’s a real shame. The magnet design deserves better, and so do we.

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NCTC Could Drop ‘Cable’ As Industry Group Eyes Name Change

Industry trade group the National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC) could be dropping the “cable” moniker as it eyes a potential name change. Fierce Video reports: A trademark application filed by NCTC on May 17 shows one proposal for a new name: National Content & Technology Cooperative. An NCTC spokesperson confirmed to Fierce that the organization will be changing its name, but said it is considering a large number of options and hasn’t yet settled on a final decision. The spokesperson noted it’s taking time to register potential names, but some of the other choices on the table include simply “NCTC,” “NCTC Online” or even sticking with its current brand of the National Cable Television Cooperative. […] According to the application, it appears NCTC is also considering losing the image of a coaxial cable that’s currently featured in its logo.

So why the potential shift away from cable? One factor could be that the industry has clearly changed since NCTC formed in 1984, with cable operators in recent years deemphasizing traditional video offerings. The “Cable Television” part of the group’s name is becoming less accurate over time, said Brett Sappington, VP of Interpret. “Broadband, not television, is the cash cow for the cable industry,” he told Fierce Video. “Many of the organization’s members are actually moving away from offering their own video service and are, instead, focusing on broadband bundled with streaming services.” […] Along with industry changes come some shifts in perception as well. “Cable TV doesn’t necessarily have a positive connotation today,” Sappington noted. “In fact, many online TV services such as Sling TV or FuboTV emphasize why consumers should ‘drop cable’ and go with their services instead,” he continued.

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Microsoft Dev Box Will Virtualize Your Windows Development PC In a Browser Window

Microsoft Dev Box is intended to simplify the process of getting new developer workstations up and running quickly, with all necessary tools and dependencies installed and working out-of-the-box (so to speak), along with access to up-to-date source code and fresh copies of any nightly builds. Ars Technica reports: Dev Box is built on Windows 365, a service that IT admins can use to provide preconfigured virtual PCs to users. Admins can build operating system images and offer hardware configurations with different amounts of CPU power, storage, and RAM based on what particular users (or workloads) need. Windows 365 virtual machines, including but not limited to Dev Box VMs, can be accessed from other Windows PCs, or devices running macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, or ChromeOS.

“Microsoft Dev Box supports any developer IDE, SDK, or internal tool that runs on Windows,” writes Microsoft product manager Anthony Cangialosi [in a blog post introducing the service]. “Dev Boxes can target any development workload you can build from a Windows desktop and are particularly well-suited for desktop, mobile, IoT, and gaming. You can even build cross-platform apps using Windows Subsystem for Linux.” Dev Box is currently available in a private preview. If you’re interested in testing it when the preview goes public, you can sign up to learn more here.

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California Parents Could Soon Sue For Social Media Addiction

California could soon hold social media companies responsible for harming children who have become addicted to their products, permitting parents to sue platforms like Instagram and TikTok for up to $25,000 per violation under a bill that passed the state Assembly on Monday. The Associated Press reports: The bill defines “addiction” as kids under 18 who are both harmed — either physically, mentally, emotionally, developmentally or materially — and who want to stop or reduce how much time they spend on social media but they can’t because they are preoccupied or obsessed with it. Business groups have warned that if the bill passes, social media companies would most likely cease operations for children in California rather than face the legal risk.

The proposal would only apply to social media companies that had at least $100 million in gross revenue in the past year, appearing to take aim at social media giants like Facebook and others that dominate the marketplace. It would not apply to streaming services like Netflix and Hulu or to companies that only offer email and text messaging services. […] The bill gives social media companies two paths to escape liability in the courts. If the bill becomes law, it would take effect on Jan. 1. Companies that remove features deemed addictive to children by April 1 would not be responsible for damages. Also, companies that conduct regular audits of their practices to identify and remove features that could be addictive to children would be immune from lawsuits. “Monday’s vote is a key — but not final — step for the legislation,” adds the report. “The bill now heads to the state Senate, where it will undergo weeks of hearings and negotiations among lawmakers and advocates. But Monday’s vote keeps the bill alive this year.”

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EPA Opens Applications For Its $5 Billion Clean School Bus Program

The EPA is formally accepting applications for its Clean School Bus Program, a $5 billion program to replace dirty diesel school buses with more environmentally friendly options. Ars Technica reports: Specifically, the EPA is aiming to replace older (model year 2010 or older) diesel-powered school buses, which must be scrapped in order for a clean bus to be bought to replace them. Oh, and the old bus has to be fully functionalâ”this isn’t intended as a way to make the government pay for broken junk to be replaced with shiny new buses. But the agency says it will also accept applications from schools looking for zero-emission buses that are prepared to scrap older non-diesel school buses, as well as newer internal combustion buses (which should either be sold, scrapped, or donated).

The EPA isn’t requiring the replacement buses to all be electric, however. While the program will pay for battery-electric buses — such as the Thomas C2 Jouley that was delivered to a school in Alexandria County in Virginia on Friday to mark the start of the program — it will also pay for buses powered by propane or compressed natural gas as long as they’re also model year 2021 or newer and will serve the school district for at least five years, among other requirements.

The EPA will consider applications to replace up to 25 buses at once and has set aside $250 million for zero-emission buses in 2022 and $250 million for clean school buses, with another $4.5 billion remaining for 2023-2028. Rebates range from $375,000 for a zero-emissions Class 7 or Class 8 bus down to $25,000 for smaller propane buses (classes 3-6). The application process is open until August 19, and successful applicants should be notified in October that it’s time to order some new buses.

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