Microsoft wants to bring exFAT to the Linux kernel

ExFAT, the Extended File Allocation Table, is Microsoft’s file system for flash drives and SD cards, which launched in 2006. Because it was proprietary, mounting these drives and cards on Linux machines generally involved installing additional software. Today, however, Microsoft announced that it is supporting the addition of exFAT to the Linux kernel and publishing the technical specifications for exFAT.

“It’s important to us that the Linux community can make use of exFAT included in the Linux kernel with confidence. To this end, we will be making Microsoft’s technical specification for exFAT publicly available
to facilitate development of conformant, interoperable implementations.”

In addition to wanting it to become part of the Linux kernel, Microsoft also says that it hopes that the exFAT specs will become part of the Open Invention Network’s  Linux definition. Once accepted, the code would benefit “from the defensive patent commitments of OIN’s 3040+ members and licensees,” the company notes.

Microsoft and Linux used to be mortal enemies — and some in the Linux community definitely still think of Microsoft as anti-open source. These days, though, Microsoft has clearly embraced open source and Linux, which is now the most popular operating system on Azure and, optionally, part of Windows 10, thanks to its Windows Subsystem for Linux. It’ll still be interesting to see how the community will react to this proposal. The aftertaste of Microsoft’s strategy of  “embrace, extend and extinguish” still lingers in the community, after all, and not too long ago, this move would’ve been interpreted as yet another example of this.

Amazon acquires flash-based cloud storage startup E8 Storage

Amazon has acquired Isreali storage tech startup E8 Storage, as first reported to Reuters, CNBC and Globes and confirmed by TechCrunch. The acquisition will bring the team and technology from E8 in to Amazon’s existing Amazon Web Services center in Tel Aviv, per reports.

E8 Storage’s particular focus was on building storage hardware that employs flash-based memory to deliver faster performance than competing offerings, according to its own claims. How exactly AWS intends to use the company’s talent or assets isn’t yet known, but it clearly lines up with their primary business.

AWS acquisitions this year include TSO Logic, a Vancouver-based startup that optimizes data center workload operating efficiency, and Israel-based CloudEndure, which provides data recovery services in the event of a disaster.

Hit indie game Cuphead is headed to Tesla vehicles in August

Tesla’s games library is getting bigger, and the latest announced title is probably a familiar one to gaming fans: Cuphead. This indie game was released in 2017 for Xbox One and Windows after making a big debut in 2013, attracting a lot of attention thanks to its hand-drawn, retro Disney-esque animation style.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed that Cuphead would be getting a Tesla port sometime in August, replying to a post in which Tesla announced its latest addition to the in-car arcade library: Chess. The game will run at 60fps on the in-car display, Musk added, noting that while 4K isn’t supported for Tesla’s screens, the game “doesn’t need” that high resolution.

Cuphead has since been released for both macOS and Nintendo Switch, and has gained critical acclaim for its challenging gameplay in addition to its unique graphic style. The game works with one or two players (which Tesla cars also now support via gamepad controllers for some other titles) and basically involves side-scrolling run-and-gun action punctuated by frequent boss fights.

Musk continued on Twitter regarding the Cuphead port that it will use a Unity port for Tesla’s in-car OS, which is already done, and currently they’re in the process of refining the controls. A limit of available onboard storage will be solved by allowing added game storage via USB, so that Tesla owners will be able to add flash drives to hold more downloaded games.

Earlier this month, Netflix announced that it would be developing an animated series based on Cuphead, and the game has sold over 4 million copies world-wide so far. Tesla launched Tesla Arcade last month as a dedicated in-car app to host the growing collection of games it’s brought to the car – and it’s worth noting that you can only access these games while in park.

 

Kencko chugs down $3.4M to help you get more fruit and vegetables in your diet

Kencko, a company that wants to help people eat more fruit and vegetables in their daily life, is entering feast mode after it announced a $3.4 million seed round for growth and product development.

We profiled the company last year, but — for those who missed it — Kencko develops plant-based products that help people eat healthy without having to suffer the pain of horrible tasting food or other extreme eating. That’s to say that its fruit drinks, the company’s first product, include the pulp and vitamins absent in pressed juice but come in a convenient sachet that has been flash-frozen and slow-dried to retain all the goodness. The company says that each packet, which is 20g and mixes with water, contains two of the five-a-day recommendation for fruit and vegetable servings.

Right now, Kencko — which means health in Japanese — is selling the fruit drink with six different flavor options. Founder and CEO Tomás Froes said the plan is to add as many as half a dozen new options before this year is out. Also coming are two new products that, like the drinks, are made from 100% organic fruits and vegetables to, again, make it easy and tasty to eat healthily.

Beyond products, Kencko is also using the new capital to develop its direct-to-consumer strategy. A big focus of that is its mobile app which is currently in beta with early customers but will get a full launch this year, according to Froes.

Kencko products are sold in units but also as a subscription, and that bundle will include a personal nutritionist — from Kencko’s in-house team — who will use data collected in the app to help customers personalize their diet and approach to health. Further down the line, that may include face-to-face appointments in parts of the U.S. and remote-based sessions, added Froes — who runs the 25-person company with co-founder and CBD Ricardo Vice Santos.

Kencko is focused on the U.S. and Canada but it is available worldwide. Customers can buy the fruit drink through a $16 three-day-trial pack, or more committed packages of 20 and 60 sachets, which cost $60 and $150, respectively.

Froes became a vegan after being diagnosed with acute gastritis. He was inspired to start the company in 2017 after a 90% fruit and vegetable diet cleared the condition without medicine — a doctor had previously told him that he would need to be treated with a cocktail of pills for the rest of his life.

kencko box20

Now, with plant-based brands like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat booming and increased media coverage of the science and sustainability of food, Froes believes interest in healthy diet options has never been higher.

“There is demand for more transparency and knowledge on ingredients,” he explained in an interview. “The past few years have sparked a completely new revolution around food.”

The investment came from NextView Ventures, LocalGlobe, Kairos Ventures, Techstars, Max Ventures and other unnamed backers. Kencko took part in Techstar’s London accelerator last year.

Fresh tickets to our 14th Annual TechCrunch Summer Party

Our 14th Annual TechCrunch Summer Party is a mere two weeks away, and we’re serving up a fresh new batch of tickets to this popular Silicon Valley tradition. Jump on this opportunity, folks, because our previous releases sold out in a flash — and these babies won’t last long, either. Buy your ticket today.

Our summer soiree takes place on July 25 at Park Chalet, San Francisco’s coastal beer garden. Picture it: A cold brew, an ocean view, tasty food and relaxed conversations with other amazing members of the early-startup tech community.

TechCrunch parties have a reputation as a place where startup magic happens. And there will be plenty of magical opportunity afoot this year as heavy-hitter VCs from Merus Capital, August Capital, Battery Ventures, Cowboy Ventures, Data Collective, General Catalyst and Uncork Capital join the party.

There’s more than one way to make magic at our summer fete. If you’re serious about catching the eye of these major VCs, consider buying a Startup Demo Package, which includes four attendee tickets.

Fun fact: Box founders Aaron Levie and Dylan Smith met one of their first investors, DFJ, at a party hosted by TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington. It’s one of our favorite success stories.

Check out the party details:

  • When: July 25 from 5:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
  • Where: Park Chalet in San Francisco
  • How much: $95
  • Startup Demo Package: $2,000

No TechCrunch party is complete without a chance to win great door prizes, including TechCrunch swag, Amazon Echos and tickets to Disrupt San Francisco 2019.

Buy your ticket today and enjoy a convivial evening of connection and community in a beautiful setting. Opportunity happens, and it’s waiting for you at the TechCrunch Summer Party.

Pro Tip: If you miss out this time, sign up here and we’ll let you know when we release the next group of tickets.

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at the TechCrunch 14th Annual Summer Party? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

AT&T’s new streaming service HBO Max arrives in 2020, will be the exclusive home of ‘Friends’

AT&T’s acquisition of HBO goes beyond just offering premium TV programming – the company revealed on Tuesday that it’s going to call its new streaming service HBO Max, and that this will launch next spring, with over 10,000 hours of content available to subscribers.

It’ll have ‘Friends,’ dear readers, which is all that matters in the modern streaming wars where weirdly services compete for dominion over a couple of decade-plus-year old TV shows including ‘The Office’ and this highly-unrelatable 90s NBC sitcom.

HBO Max won’t offer exclusively HBO content, as you can probably tell by the availability fo Friends, but the Wall Street Journal reports that the naming is meant to indicate how important HBO as a TV brand is to consumers. In other words, they’re going to make the most of that purchase, even if it dilutes the actual HBO brand in the process. It’s beginning to become much more clear why HBO CEO Richard Plepler resigned in February.

The new service enters a teeming field of competitors, including Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Netflix and many more I can’t even remember off the top of my head. It’s also not launching until after Apple puts live its own Apple TV+ service, and Disney+ comes online in November, and per the WSJ, it’ll cost “slightly more” than HBO’s currently $14.99 per month pricing for Go alone.

AT&T is spending on content, however, including the high purchase price for ‘Friends’ rights, as well as development deals with a number of top talents from the film and television industry, including Reese Witherspoon, Greg Berlanti and more. Future CW shows will also reside in HBO Max instead of on Netflix, which is bad news for my habit of bingeing subpar DC superhero TV including ‘Arrow’ and ‘The Flash.’

Flash Sale! Buy a mobility startup package, get one for free at Disrupt SF

Check your calendars, mobility startup fans. It’s only five short weeks until TC Sessions: Mobility 2019 goes down in San Jose. Get ready to dive into the current state of mobility, challenge assumptions, put hyperbole in its place and help shape the future of these rapidly evolving technologies.

And if you want to expose your early-stage mobility startups to mobility’s brightest, most influential founders, technologists and investors, take advantage of this limited-time flash sale. When you buy a demo table at TC Sessions: Mobility you’ll get a free Startup Alley Exhibitor Package at Disrupt San Francisco 2019*. And guess what — in addition to a demo space, both events’ startup packages come with three attendee tickets!

This double-demo opportunity comes to a grinding halt on Friday, June 7 at 11:59 pm (PT) and is exclusively for early-stage mobility startups. Don’t miss your chance to showcase your company to thousands of attendees at Disrupt SF — at substantial savings. Seriously, this deal puts the “expo” in exposure.

As a demo table holder, you’ll also get to enjoy all the programming that it offers — we’re talking speakers, panels, workshops and demos that tackle mobility’s inherent challenges and promises. Our jam-packed agenda covers everything from autonomous vehicles and redefining urban mobility to powering electric cars and whether venture capital can drive it all — and then some. Here’s a quick peek at some of the presentations:

  • Autonomous Robotaxis vs. Shuttles — Karl Iagnemma, Alisyn Malek and Lia Theodosiou-Pisanelli represent some of the top minds trying to bring autonomous vehicle technology to the masses. They’ll debate which approaches makes the most sense and have the best chances for economic viability and which safety and security vulnerabilities and other challenges could throw them off track.
  • Rebuilding the Motor City — Ken Washington, Ford’s CTO and vice president of research and advanced engineering, will discuss how the historic automaker is rapidly changing its culture and processes while it prepares for an electric future.
  • Will Venture Capital Drive the Future of Mobility?  — Three leading early-stage investors, Michael Granoff, Ted Serbinski and Sarah Smith, will debate the uncertain future of mobility tech and whether VC dollars are enough to push the industry forward.

TC Sessions: Mobility 2019 takes place on July 10 in San Jose. Buy a demo table before Friday, June 7 at 11:59 pm (PT) to receive a 100% discount on a Startup Alley Exhibitor Package at Disrupt San Francisco 2019. Don’t miss this opportunity to double your exposure to influential movers and shakers. They might just rock your world.

*This is a limited-time offer and expires on June 7, 2019, at 11:59 pm (PT). Offer open only to early-stage, mobility startups with less than $3 million in funding. Offer cannot be combined with other discounts or promotions.

The Slack origin story

Let’s rewind a decade.

It’s 2009. Vancouver, Canada.

Stewart Butterfield, known already for his part in building Flickr, a photo-sharing service acquired by Yahoo in 2005, decided to try his hand — again — at building a game. Flickr had been a failed attempt at a game called Game Neverending followed by a big pivot. This time, Butterfield would make it work.

To make his dreams a reality, he joined forces with Flickr’s original chief software architect Cal Henderson, as well as former Flickr employees Eric Costello and Serguei Mourachov, who like himself, had served some time at Yahoo after the acquisition. Together, they would build Tiny Speck, the company behind an artful, non-combat massively multiplayer online game.

Years later, Butterfield would pull off a pivot more massive than his last. Slack, born from the ashes of his fantastical game, would lead a shift toward online productivity tools that fundamentally change the way people work.

Glitch is born

In mid-2009, former TechCrunch reporter-turned-venture-capitalist M.G. Siegler wrote one of the first stories on Butterfield’s mysterious startup plans.

“So what is Tiny Speck all about?” Siegler wrote. “That is still not entirely clear. The word on the street has been that it’s some kind of new social gaming endeavor, but all they’ll say on the site is ‘we are working on something huge and fun and we need help.’”

Siegler would go on to invest in Slack as a general partner at GV, the venture capital arm of Alphabet .

“Clearly this is a creative project,” Siegler added. “It almost sounds like they’re making an animated movie. As awesome as that would be, with people like Henderson on board, you can bet there’s impressive engineering going on to turn this all into a game of some sort (if that is in fact what this is all about).”

After months of speculation, Tiny Speck unveiled its project: Glitch, an online game set inside the brains of 11 giants. It would be free with in-game purchases available and eventually, a paid subscription for power users.

‘Unhackable’ encrypted flash drive eyeDisk is, as it happens, hackable

In security, nothing is “unhackable.” When it’s claimed, security researchers see nothing more than a challenge.

Enter the latest findings from Pen Test Partners, a U.K.-based cybersecurity firm. Their latest project was ripping apart the “unhackable” eyeDisk, an allegedly secure USB flash drive that uses iris recognition to unlock and decrypt the device.

eyeDisk raised over $21,000 in its Kickstarter campaign last year and began shipping devices in March.

There’s just one problem: it’s anything but “unhackable.”

Pen Test Partners researcher David Lodge found the device’s backup password — to access data in the event of device failure or a sudden eye-gouging accident — could be easily obtained using a software tool able to sniff USB device traffic.

The secret password — “SecretPass” — can be seen in plaintext. (Image: Pen Test Partners)

“That string in red, that’s the password I set on the device. In the clear. Across an easy to sniff bus,” he said in a blog post detailing his findings. The password is

Worse, he said, the device’s real password can be picked up even when the wrong password has been entered. Lodge explained this as the device revealing its password first, then validating it against whatever password the user submitted before the unlock password is sent.

Lodge said anyone using one of these devices should use additional encryption on the device.

The researcher disclosed the flaw to eyeDisk, which promised a fix, but has yet to release it. eyeDisk did not return a request for comment.

Apple cancels AirPower product, citing inability to meet its high standards for hardware

Apple has canceled the AirPower product completely, citing difficulty meeting its own standards.

“After much effort, we’ve concluded AirPower will not achieve our high standards and we have cancelled the project. We apologize to those customers who were looking forward to this launch. We continue to believe that the future is wireless and are committed to push the wireless experience forward,” said Dan Riccio, Apple’s senior vice president of Hardware Engineering in an emailed statement today.

After a delay of over a year since it was first announced in September of 2017, the AirPower charging mat has become something of a focal point for Apple’s recent habit of announcing envelope tickling products and not actually shipping them on time. The AirPods, famously, had a bit of a delay before becoming widely available, and were shipped in limited quantities before finally hitting their stride and becoming a genuine cultural moment.

AirPower, however, has had far more time to marinate in the soup of public opinion since it was announced. Along with recent MacBook keyboard troubles, this has functioned as a sort of flash point over discussion that something isn’t right with Apple’s hardware processes.

Everything I’ve personally heard (Apple is saying nothing officially) about the AirPower delay has been related to tough engineering problems related to the laws of physics. Specifically, I’ve heard that they ran too hot because the 3D charging coils in close proximity to one another required very, very cautious power management.

Obviously, it would do Apple very little good to release a charging mat that caused devices to overheat, perhaps even to the point of damage. So, it has canceled the project. If you know more about this, feel free to reach out, I’m fascinated.

There have been other scenarios where Apple has pushed the hardware envelope hard and managed to pull it off and ship them, the iPhone 7 Plus, its first with a twin-lens system, being one that jumps to mind. Apple had a fallback plan in a single-lens version but at some point had to commit and step off a ledge to get it done in time to ship — even though knowing they still had problems to solve. Apple has done this many times over the years, but has managed to ship a lot of them.

AirPower, however, was the other kind of case. The project was apparently canceled so recently that boxes of the new AirPod cases even have pictures of AirPower on them and the new AirPod sets have mentions of AirPower.

This is a very, very rare public mis-step for Apple. Never, throughout the discussion about when AirPower might be released, did the overall trend of the discussion lean toward “never.” That’s a testament to the ability of its hardware engineering teams to consistently pull of what seems to be nearly impossible over the years. In this case, it appears that the engineering issues have proven, at least at this point, insurmountable.

The fact of the matter is that hardware is, well, hard. The basic concepts of wireless charging are well known and established, but by promising the ability to place multiple devices anywhere on a pad, allowing them to charge simultaneously while communicating charge levels and rates Apple set its bar incredibly high for AirPower. Too high, in this case.