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Pandora Stock Surges 25% After User Data-Based Marketing Push
Posted by News Fetcher on May 05 '18 at 09:51 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's music-to-their-ears department:
An anonymous reader writes:
Pandora's stock had its best day ever on Wall Street, rising more than 25% after reporting their subscription and other revenue had surged 61.3 percent to $104.7 million.
Previous users have apparently been lured back with targeted marketing touting a new service that lets users briefly play their favorite songs on demand if they'll watch a short ad. "Pandora said it ended the quarter with 5.63 million subscribers to its Pandora Plus and Pandora Platinum paid services, which was 19 percent higher than the same period a year ago," reports one Silicon Valley newspaper. March saw more former users returning than in the same month a year ago -- for the first time in 18 months.

And an important factor was switching from brand-based marketing to data-based marketing -- that is, "using the information that Pandora has on users' listening preferences." Pandora's Chief Executive brags to MarketWatch that "We really have world-class data-science capabilities. We just never used them in our own marketing."

Engadget reports:
Revenue for the quarter rose to $319.2 million, up 12 percent over the first quarter of 2017... But Pandora is still losing money. The company posted a net loss of $131.7 million, a slight improvement on the $132.3 million loss in Q1 2017. Overall engagement is down year-over-year, with active listeners dropping 4 percent to 72.3 million. Listener hours dipped from 5.21 billion to 4.96 billion.

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NASA Launches a New Mission To Mars
Posted by News Fetcher on May 05 '18 at 08:31 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's mission-to-Mars department:
"This is a big day. We're going back to Mars," said one NASA official, presiding over this morning's launch of the first Mars surface craft to lift off since 2011. CNN reports:
The Atlas V 401 rocket also carried two suitcase-size spacecraft, designed to orbit Mars, as it blasted into the dark and cloudy sky, which turned bright gold for seconds as the rocket ascended in a plume of smoke... After a six-month journey, if it all goes as planned, InSight -- whose name is short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport -- will touch down just north of the Martian equator on November 26, joining five other NASA spacecraft operating on and above Mars.
The 790-pound (358-kilogram) probe will then begin its two-year science mission to seek the "fingerprints" of the processes that formed the rocky planets of the solar system. It will measure the planet's "vital signs: 'its "pulse' (seismology), 'temperature' (heat flow) and 'reflexes' (precision tracking)," according to NASA. The explorer doesn't have wheels, so it can't roll around gathering up dirt to study. But it does have a 7.8-foot-long (2.4-meter) robotic arm. The arm will place a seismometer on the ground to detect "marsquakes" (think earthquakes, but on Mars, of course). InSight also will burrow 10 to 16 feet into the crust of Mars, going 15 times deeper than any previous Martian mission, according to NASA.
The rocket is carrying two briefcase-sized satellites (named Wall-E and Eva) which will demonstrate that cubesats can survey journeys to other planets.

Two microchips have also been affixed to the lander carrying the names of 2.4 million space enthusiasts -- including William Shatner.

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70-Year-Old Former Volkswagen CEO Charged With Fraud Over Emissions Scandal
Posted by News Fetcher on May 05 '18 at 07:10 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's capping-a-career department:
An anonymous reader quotes CNN:
The U.S.government has charged Martin Winterkorn, the former chief executive officer of Volkswagen, with fraud in the company's diesel emissions-cheating scandal. The indictment was unsealed in Detroit on Thursday, revealing that Winterkorn had been charged on March 14 with wire fraud and conspiracy to defraud Volkswagen's American customers and violate the Clean Air Act...
Volkswagen admitted in late 2015 that it fitted as many as 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide with software that could cheat emissions tests... The indictment alleges that Winterkorn was made aware of emissions cheating in May 2014 and July 2015, and that he agreed with other senior executives to continue the practice... Winterkorn, 70, is believed to be a resident of Germany. He is the ninth person charged by the U.S. government over emissions cheating.

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Canada Facing 'Brain Drain' As Young Tech Talent Leaves For Silicon Valley
Posted by News Fetcher on May 05 '18 at 05:50 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's disappearing-into-thin-air department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Globe and Mail: Canada's best and brightest computer engineering graduates are leaving for jobs in Silicon Valley at alarmingly high rates, fueling a worse "brain drain" than the mass exodus by Canadian doctors two decades ago, according to a new study. The study, led by Zachary Spicer, a senior associate with the Munk School of Global Affairs' Innovation Policy Lab at University of Toronto, found one-in-four recent science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) graduates from three of the country's top universities -- University of Waterloo, University of British Columbia and U of T -- were working outside Canada. The numbers were higher for graduates of computer engineering and computer science (30 percent), engineering science (27 percent) and software engineering, where two out three graduates were working outside Canada, mostly in the United States. Nearly 44 percent of those working abroad were employed as software engineers, with Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Amazon listed as top employers.

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Apple's Eddy Cue To Be Deposed In Qualcomm Patent Battle
Posted by News Fetcher on May 05 '18 at 03:10 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's slice-and-dice department:
"Apple executive Eddy Cue will be questioned by Qualcomm's lawyers as part of a legal battle between the companies over billions of dollars in patents and licensing fees," reports Bloomberg. "On Friday, San Diego Federal Judge Mitchell D. Dembin ordered Cue to be deposed in the case, granting a Qualcomm request and turning down Apple's arguments against the move." From the report: At the heart of the standoff is a dispute over how much Qualcomm can charge phone makers to use its patents, whether or not they use its chips. The San Diego, California-based company gets the majority of profit from licensing technology that covers the fundamentals of modern mobile phone systems. Apple has cut off license payments to Qualcomm and filed an antitrust lawsuit that accused the chipmaker of trying to monopolize the industry. In November, Qualcomm filed a motion to depose Cue. Apple pushed back stating that Cue's role overseeing services made him unrelated to the case. Qualcomm cited past Apple statements pinpointing Cue as one of the lead negotiators when the iPhone launched in 2007 exclusively on AT&T's network in the U.S.

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Nvidia Shuts Down Its GeForce Partner Program, Citing Misinformation
Posted by News Fetcher on May 04 '18 at 11:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's end-of-the-road department:
In a blog post on Friday, Nvidia announced it is "pulling the plug" on the GeForce Partner Program (GPP) due to the company's unwillingness to combat "rumors" and "mistruths" about the platform. The GPP has only been active for a couple of months. It was launched as a way for gamers to know exactly what they're buying when shopping for a new gaming PC. "With this program, partners would provide full transparency regarding the installed hardware and software in their products," reports Digital Trends. From the report: Shortly after the launch, unnamed sources from add-in card and desktop/laptop manufacturers came forward to reveal that the program will likely hurt consumer choice. Even more, they worried that some of the agreement language may actually be illegal while the program itself could disrupt the current business they have with AMD and Intel. They also revealed one major requirement: The resulting product sports the label "[gaming brand] Aligned Exclusively with GeForce." As an example, if Asus wanted to add its Republic of Gamers (RoG) line to Nvidia's program, it wouldn't be allowed to sell RoG products with AMD-based graphics. Of course, manufacturers can choose whether or not to join Nvidia's program, but membership supposedly had its "perks" including access to early technology, sales rebate programs, game bundling, and more.

According to Nvidia, all it asked of its partners was to "brand their products in a way that would be crystal clear." The company says it didn't want "substitute GPUs hidden behind a pile of techno-jargon." Specifications for desktops and laptops tend to list their graphics components and PC gamers are generally intelligent shoppers that don't need any clarification. Regardless, Nvidia is pulling the controversial program because the "rumors, conjecture, and mistruths go far beyond" the program's intent.

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The Rise of the Pointless Job
Posted by News Fetcher on May 04 '18 at 08:30 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's completely-meaningless department:
An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from an article via The Guardian, written by David Graeber: One day, the wall shelves in my office collapsed. This left books scattered all over the floor and a jagged, half-dislocated metal frame that once held the shelves in place dangling over my desk. I'm a professor of anthropology at a university. A carpenter appeared an hour later to inspect the damage, and announced gravely that, as there were books all over the floor, safety rules prevented him from entering the room or taking further action. I would have to stack the books and not touch anything else, whereupon he would return at the earliest available opportunity. The carpenter never reappeared. Each day, someone in the anthropology department would call, often multiple times, to ask about the fate of the carpenter, who always turned out to have something extremely pressing to do. By the time a week was out, it had become apparent that there was one man employed by buildings and grounds whose entire job it was to apologize for the fact that the carpenter hadn't come. He seemed a nice man. Still, it's hard to imagine he was particularly happy with his work life.

< article continued at Slashdot's completely-meaningless department >

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Yale Physicists Find Signs of a Time Crystal
Posted by News Fetcher on May 04 '18 at 07:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's fortune-and-glory department:
Yale physicists have uncovered hints of a time crystal, a form of matter that "ticks" when exposed to an electromagnetic pulse, in a child's toy. The discovery means there are now new puzzles to solve, in terms of how time crystals form in the first place. Yale News reports: Ordinary crystals such as salt or quartz are examples of three-dimensional, ordered spatial crystals. Their atoms are arranged in a repeating system, something scientists have known for a century. Time crystals, first identified in 2016, are different. Their atoms spin periodically, first in one direction and then in another, as a pulsating force is used to flip them. That's the "ticking." In addition, the ticking in a time crystal is locked at a particular frequency, even when the pulse flips are imperfect.

Monoammonium phosphate (MAP) crystals are considered so easy to grow that they are sometimes included in crystal growing kits aimed at youngsters. It would be unusual to find a time crystal signature inside a MAP crystal, [Yale Physics professor Sean Barrett] explained, because time crystals were thought to form in crystals with more internal "disorder." The researchers used nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) to look for a DTC signature -- and quickly found it. Another unexpected thing happened, as well. "We realized that just finding the DTC signature didn't necessarily prove that the system had a quantum memory of how it came to be," said Yale graduate student Robert Blum, a co-author on the studies. "This spurred us to try a time crystal 'echo,' which revealed the hidden coherence, or quantum order, within the system," added Rovny, also a Yale graduate student and lead author of the studies. The findings are described in a pair of studies, one in the journal Physical Review Letters and the other in the journal Physical Review B.

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California To Become First US State Mandating Solar On New Homes
Posted by News Fetcher on May 04 '18 at 05:50 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's first-of-its-kind department:
OCRegister reports that "The California Energy Commission is scheduled to vote Wednesday, May 9, on new energy standards mandating most new homes have solar panels starting in 2020." From the report: Just 15 percent to 20 percent of new single-family homes built include solar, according to Bob Raymer, technical director for the California Building Industry Association. The proposed new rules would deviate slightly from another much-heralded objective: Requiring all new homes be "net-zero," meaning they would produce enough solar power to offset all electricity and natural gas consumed over the course of a year. New thinking has made that goal obsolete, state officials say. True "zero-net-energy" homes still rely on the electric power grid at night, they explained, a time when more generating plants come online using fossil fuels to generate power. In addition to widespread adoption of solar power, the new provisions include a push to increase battery storage and increase reliance on electricity over natural gas.

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Sorry Elon Musk, There's No Clear Evidence Autopilot Saves Lives
Posted by News Fetcher on May 04 '18 at 05:50 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's numbers-don't-lie department:
Timothy B. Lee writes for Ars Technica: A few days after the Mountain View crash, Tesla published a blog post acknowledging that Autopilot was active at the time of the crash. But the company argued that the technology improved safety overall, pointing to a 2017 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). "Over a year ago, our first iteration of Autopilot was found by the U.S. government to reduce crash rates by as much as 40 percent," the company wrote. It was the second time Tesla had cited that study in the context of the Mountain View crash -- another blog post three days earlier had made the same point. Unfortunately, there are some big problems with that finding. Indeed, the flaws are so significant that NHTSA put out a remarkable statement this week distancing itself from its own finding.

"NHTSA's safety defect investigation of MY2014-2016 Tesla Model S and Model X did not assess the effectiveness of this technology," the agency said in an email to Ars on Wednesday afternoon. "NHTSA performed this cursory comparison of the rates before and after installation of the feature to determine whether models equipped with Autosteer were associated with higher crash rates, which could have indicated that further investigation was necessary." Tesla has also claimed that its cars have a crash rate 3.7 times lower than average, but as we'll see there's little reason to think that has anything to do with Autopilot. This week, we've talked to several automotive safety experts, and none has been able to point us to clear evidence that Autopilot's semi-autonomous features improve safety. And that's why news sites like ours haven't written stories "about how autonomous cars are really safe." Maybe that will prove true in the future, but right now the data just isn't there. Musk has promised to publish regular safety reports in the future -- perhaps those will give us the data needed to establish whether Autopilot actually improves safety.

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Gmail's 'Self-Destruct' Feature Will Probably Be Used To Illegally Destroy Government Records
Posted by News Fetcher on May 04 '18 at 04:30 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's search-and-destroy department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: A new update rolling out for Gmail offers a "self destruct" feature that allows users to send messages that expire after a set amount of time. While this may sound great for personal use, activists fear that government organizations will use the feature to delete public records to hide them from reporters and others interested in government transparency. Normally, government emails are available to journalists, researchers, and citizens using Freedom of Information Act requests (and its state-level analogues.) The self destruct feature was announced on April 25 as part of Google's new confidential mode for G Suite. In addition to self destruct, confidential mode allows users to delete messages after they have been sent and places restrictions on how recipients can interact with received emails. "As more local and state governments and their various agencies seek to use Gmail, there is the potential that state public records laws will be circumvented by emails that 'disappear' after a period of time," the National Freedom of Information Coalition wrote in a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai. "The public's fundamental right to transparency and openness by their governments will be compromised. We urge you take steps to assure the 'self-destruct' feature be disabled on government Gmail accounts and on emails directed to a government entity."

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Abbott Addresses Life-Threatening Flaw In a Half-Million Pacemakers
Posted by News Fetcher on May 04 '18 at 04:30 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's life-saver department:
lod123 shares a report from Threatpost: Nearly a half-million pacemakers are up for a firmware update to address potentially life-threatening vulnerabilities. Abbott (formerly St. Jude Medical) has released another upgrade to the firmware installed on certain implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) or cardiac resynchronization therapy defibrillator (CRT-D) devices -- a.k.a., pacemakers. About 465,000 patients are affected. The update will strengthen the devices' protection against unauthorized access, as the provider said in a statement on its website: "It is intended to prevent anyone other than your doctor from changing your device settings." The update comes after 2016 claims by researchers that the then-St. Jude's cardiac implant ecosystem was rife with cybersecurity flaws that could result in "catastrophic results."

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Criminals Used a Fleet of Drones To Disrupt an FBI Hostage Operation
Posted by News Fetcher on May 04 '18 at 03:11 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's stranger-things department:
Criminals have discovered another use for drones -- to distract and spy on law enforcement. From a report: They recently tried to thwart an FBI hostage rescue, Joe Mazel, chief of the FBI's operational technology law unit, said this week, according to a report by news site Defense One. Mazel, speaking at the AUVSI Xponential drone conference in Denver, said that criminals launched a swarm of drones at an FBI rescue team during an unspecified hostage situation near a large U.S. city, confusing law enforcement. The criminals flew the drones at high speed over the heads of FBI agents to drive them away while also shooting video that they then uploaded to YouTube as a way to alert other nearby criminal members about law enforcement's location.

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'Follow-Up To Vine' Gets Delayed For 'Indefinite Amount of Time'
Posted by News Fetcher on May 04 '18 at 03:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's technical-difficulties department:
Late last year, Vine's co-founder, Dom Hofmann, said he was working on "a follow-up to Vine," after the six-second video social media app was shut down by Twitter in October. "I'm going to work on a follow-up to vine. i've been feeling it myself for some time and have seen a lot of tweets, dms, etc.," Hofmann tweeted at the time. Well, several months have passed and we have learned that Vine v2 will be postponed for an "indefinite amount of time" while Hofmann figures out funding and logistical hurdles. The Verge reports: The announcement, made on the v2 forums and reposted this morning by the official v2 Twitter handle, is a disappointing but understanding turn of events. Back in January, Hofmann suggested the app may launch as soon as this summer, which was an ambitious timetable. Now, Hofmann says that, despite the immense interest in his project, he has to take the time to make sure it doesn't fall apart before continuing. He cites a need for substantial venture funding to get v2 off the ground after initially thinking he may be able to self-fund it. "Long story short, in order to work, the v2 project needs to operate as a company with sizable external funding, probably from investors," Hofmann writes. "This is difficult because I already run an early-stage company (Innerspace VR, a creative immersive entertainment studio he founded after selling Vine to Twitter years ago) that is in the middle of development. Very few backers would be happy with the split attention, and I wouldn't be either. This is potentially solvable, but it's going to take time for the space and resources to become available."

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HTC Teases Its Next Flagship Smartphone. Too Bad, the Photo Shows Parts of an iPhone 6.
Posted by News Fetcher on May 04 '18 at 01:51 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's you-had-one-job department:
HTC has begun to ramp up marketing campaign for its next major smartphone release, teasing that they will be making a proper announcement on May 23rd. From a report: In an email sent to the press this morning and posted on their website, HTC posted a photo of neatly laid out phone components, with the text "Coming Soon... A phone that is more than the sum of its specs." The photo and the announcement give a May 23rd date for more details. AnandTech has added an update to the story, (Via DaringFireball ): As pointed out by a reader, these aren't new components. Or even components of an HTC phone. Rather they're a disassembled iPhone 6...

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NSA Collected 500 Million US Call Records In 2017, Says Report
Posted by News Fetcher on May 04 '18 at 01:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's great-gatherings department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: The U.S. National Security Agency collected more than 500 million phone call records of Americans last year, more than triple gathered in 2016, a U.S. intelligence agency report released on Friday said. The sharp increase to 534 million call records from 151 million occurred during the second full year of a new surveillance system established at the spy agency after U.S. lawmakers passed a law in 2015 that sought to limit its ability to collect such records in bulk. The reason for the spike was not immediately clear. The metadata records collected by the NSA include the numbers and time of a call, but not its content.

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Growing Petition Requests Apple Recall MacBook Pro With 'Defective Keyboard'
Posted by News Fetcher on May 04 '18 at 12:31 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's you-owe-an-explanation,-Apple department:
Apple might have some explaining to do if a recent petition against its MacBook Pro continues to gain steam. From a report: A petition surfaced this week on Change.org that calls on Apple to recall MacBook Pro units released since late 2016 over what the petition author Matthew Taylor calls a "defective keyboard." The petition seeks 7,500 signatures and as of this writing, it's closing in on 6,200. Judging by the sheer number of signatures coming in each minute, it shouldn't take long for it to hit the goal. "Apple, it's time: recall every MacBook Pro released since late 2016, and replace the keyboards on all of them with new, redesigned keyboards that just work," the petition reads. It goes on to say that "every one of Apple's current-gen MacBook Pro models, 13-inch and 15-inch, is sold with a keyboard that can become defective at any moment due to a design failure."

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Christopher Nolan Returns Kubrick Sci-Fi Masterpiece '2001: A Space Odyssey' To Its Original Glory
Posted by News Fetcher on May 04 '18 at 12:31 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's beautiful department:
LA Times' Kenneth Turan traces Christopher Nolan's meticulous restoration of Kubrick's masterpiece to its 70-mm glory: Christopher Nolan wants to show me something interesting. Something beautiful and exceptional, something that changed his life when he was a boy. It's also something that Nolan, one of the most accomplished and successful of contemporary filmmakers, has persuaded Warner Bros. to share with the world both at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival and then in theaters nationwide, but in a way that boldly deviates from standard practice. For what is being cued up in a small, hidden-away screening room in an unmarked building in Burbank is a brand new 70-mm reel of film of one of the most significant and influential motion pictures ever made, Stanley Kubrick's 1968 science-fiction epic "2001: A Space Odyssey." Yes, you read that right. Not a digital anything, an actual reel of film that was for all intents and purposes identical to the one Nolan saw as a child and Kubrick himself would have looked at when the film was new half a century ago.

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Google Broke Up a Vietnamese Con Scheme After an Employee Was Scammed Buying a Bluetooth Headset
Posted by News Fetcher on May 04 '18 at 11:10 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's wronged-the-wrong-guy department:
A Google executive found a high-end Bluetooth headset selling at a steep discount on Google Shopping website earlier this year. He placed the order, but much to his surprise, the headset never arrived at his doorstep. He tried calling the seller, but it turned out that the number listed on the website was disconnected, and the merchant wasn't based in the US, as the website had indicated. Instead of kicking the seller off the website, Google launched an investigation and it soon realized the problem ran too deep. From a report: But instead of simply banning the bad actor from listing new products, Google Shopping's trust and safety team initiated a global probe that ultimately tracked down 5,000 merchant accounts wrapped up in a sophisticated scheme to defraud users. "I think we caught them right at the tip of when they were trying to scale up," Saikat Mitra, Google Shopping's director of trust and safety, told CNBC. The story, which Mitra is sharing publicly for the first time, reflects Google's never-ending battle against scams, a fight that requires engineers and their increasingly sophisticated machine learning tools. It also illustrates the risks that consumers face as Google aggressively tries to win back product searches from Amazon and stay relevant in the future of e-commerce. Although Google Shopping may look like a marketplace, it really isn't. Amazon and eBay operate shopping platforms that connect sellers with buyers and offer protections like money-back guarantees. Google, by contrast, sends shoppers off its site after they click on an item, and thus has no visibility into what happens after the transaction.

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YouTube Gets 1.8 Billion Logged-in Viewers Monthly
Posted by News Fetcher on May 04 '18 at 11:10 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's skyrocketing-scale department:
On stage today at Radio City Music Hall, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki made a surprising revelation: the service gets 1.8 billion logged-in viewers every month. And that doesn't include people who aren't logged in -- which means the actual number of people watching YouTube is definitely much higher. From a report: Last June, the service had 1.5 billion logged-in watchers. On TVs alone, people are now watching 150 million hours of YouTube every day. The latest figures are yet another sign that YouTube's reach is staggering, something that Wojcicki wanted to make crystal clear for the audience of advertisers and potential partners at its annual BrandCast event.

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