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Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger says it is not considering the UK for its upcoming chip factories due to Brexit; the company is investing $95B to open European plants (BBC) October 7, 2021

BBC: Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger says it is not considering the UK for its upcoming chip factories due to Brexit; the company is investing $95B to open European plants  —  The boss of Intel says the US chipmaker is no longer considering building a factory in the UK because of Brexit.

A New Chip Cluster Will Make Massive AI Models Possible

Cerebras says its technology can run a neural network with 120 trillion connections—a hundred times what’s achievable today.

Tim Cook’s Apple, ten years later

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Looking back at a decade without Jobs — Apple’s biggest decade ever

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Microsoft will bring cloud gaming to Xbox consoles this holiday season

Microsoft is moving into the next phase of its plan to bring Xbox Cloud Gaming to as many devices as possible, and it’s one of the most important steps yet. Starting this holiday season, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers will have access to cloud gaming on Xbox Series X/S and Xbox One consoles.

The company, which made the announcement during its Gamescom showcase, said you’ll be able to fire up more than 100 games without having to download them first. At some point in the future, Xbox One owners can play some Series X/S games through the cloud, such as Microsoft Flight Simulator. You’ll know a title is cloud gaming-compatible if you see a cloud icon next to it in the Game Pass library. Microsoft is targeting 1080p gameplay at 60 frames per second.

Xbox Cloud Gaming is already available on phones, tablets and PC. Microsoft is also working on Xbox game streaming sticks as well as a smart TV cloud gaming app. This summer, the company started transitioning cloud gaming onto beefier Xbox Series X hardware after launching the service on Xbox One S-based blade servers.

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Engadget.

Fika Ventures nearly triples its assets under management: “It’s definitely a crazy time”

Fika Ventures is a five-year-old, L.A.-based seed stage fund that has been funding mostly business-to-business startups, as well as fintech companies and a sprinkling of healthcare IT startups — as long as they don’t involve hardware or FDA approval.

The firm’s investors apparently think it’s doing a decent job. After raising $41 million for its debut fund, followed by a $77 million fund that Fika closed in 2019, the outfit is today announcing a third flagship fund with $160 million to invest, along with an opportunity-type fund with $35 million in capital commitments.

That’s a major endorsement for such a young firm. Still, even with upwards of 10 promising portfolio companies — including Formative, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based platform for K-12 teachers to create assessments that raised $70 million in June; Pipe, a Miami-based startup that lets companies sell their recurring revenue streams on its platform and raised $250 million at a $2 billion valuation in May; and Papaya Global, an Israeli startup that’s sells payroll, hiring, onboarding and compliance service and raised $100 million earlier this year — it’s getting harder right now to do what they do, say firm cofounders Eva Ho and TX Zhou. “It’s definitely a crazy time,” Ho offers.

We had a candid conversation with the pair yesterday, edited lightly for length below.

TC: This is now one of the bigger seed-stage firms in L.A. What percentage of your investments are local?

EH: We feel like we have a home court advantage here, so about 40% of our deals are here, then the rest are in markets like Seattle, New York, Boston, Austin, Chicago. We recently did a deal in Toronto because they have a nice AI community there. But we still very much believe in needing boots on the ground so go after geographies where we can fly to board meetings and be there physically to support [our founders] when they need us.

TC: Your new flagship fund is more than twice the size of your last fund. How will that impact how much you invest?

TZ: Our check sizes will grow a bit in tandem with the market. As you know, seed rounds are now quite a bit larger. I think initial checks will be in the $1 million to $3 million range; with the last fund, we reserved up to $6 million per company and now we’ll reserve up to $10 million.

TC: Tell us a little about investing in a market where everybody is a founder, and everyone is also an investor. 

EH: It’s definitely a crazy time. It feels like we’re running a marathon and trying to be in a sprint. We have to have the long view and make bets with that horizon in mind, but at the same time, the decisions for initial and follow-on rounds have gotten just a lot faster.

TC: How do you continue to make good decisions when things are moving so fast?

EH: The things we’ve been doing include increasing the size of the team and doing more work upfront on an industry so that we have more prepared mind coming in. But it continues to be a struggle because everything has been sort of compressed.

TZ: I think in the past, seed funds could get away with being pure generalists, even within sectors. But we’ve been forced over the last 12 months to really understand even more sub sectors within each of our verticals. For example, within fintech, we’ve kind of taken a deep dive in real estate and insurance, and that that helps us come into deals [prepared] given how fast they’re moving these days.

TC: What is the fastest deal you’ve done?

TZ: In the past, deals that we were looking at were getting done in two to three weeks; now the average time is probably a week to a week-and-a-half to make a final decision. I’d say the fastest we’ve moved is in five days, in a situation where we’ve known the entrepreneur for years so there was strong validation on a personal level. There was also good founder-market fit in terms of what they wanted to do.

EH: We just pull ourselves out of certain rounds that are moving [super fast] and/or valuation expectation upfront is just crazy. You see a lot of pre-seed rounds right now that are pre-product, pre-traction, pre-revenue that are done at $15 million or $20 million or $30 million post-money valuations. We’ll certainly flex for the right things, but there is just a lot of froth in the market right now.

TC: If the terms are right, are you funding pre-seed, pre-product, pre-traction teams?

EH: To be very frank, we have moved a little earlier in some cases. In the first fund, we [invested about] 15% in pre-seed startups, which to us means very early product and very early traction and sometimes no traction. In fund two, we’ve invested maybe 25% in pre-seed deals because the really good founders who’ve been shown that they’re able to execute and have vision — they get snapped up quickly, so you have to adapt and evolve a bit and move downstream a little more. That said, I think almost all the companies we fund have some sort of [minimum viable product] and some initial design partners in place, even if they don’t have any meaningful revenues yet.

TC: What percentage of your investments in your most recent fund have gone to repeat founders?

TZ: I’d say 15% to 20%. Obviously, we can’t and don’t limit ourselves to [serial entrepreneurs], but with repeat founders, deals move even faster than before.

TC: What’s the most absurd thing you’ve seen in this go-go market?

TZ: I think the most absurd thing we’ve heard are funds that are making decisions after a 30-minute call with the founder.

TC: Would you ever pass on a company because you’re not that excited about the rest of the cap table?

TZ: The speed of deals has forced us to really quickly hone in on what we care about. In the past, we had the luxury of having this long laundry list of things we wanted to check off and in a positive way, we’ve been forced to hone in on the three to five things that we really care about for each deal.

The bigger challenge is that investors who decide in 30 minutes create unrealistic expectations by founders. Sometimes they expect everyone to process information that quickly, and I think what they’re missing is that these funds are not processing the information.

TC: What’s one way you get founders to slow down and pay attention?

TZ:  We actually give every founder that we’ve come close to making a decision on a complete list of every single founder that we’ve backed in the past with their contact information.

Initially, we did this to help us win deals, but I think very quickly founders get a sense of what it’s like to work with us, too.

ET Deals: Dell XPS 13 9305 13.3-Inch Intel Core i7 Laptop for $985, Dell G15 Intel Core i5 Nvidia RTX 3050 Ti Gaming Laptop for $749

Today you can get a compact 13.3-inch Dell laptop with a Core i7 processor, a 1080p touchscreen display and a sleek aluminum chassis marked down to just $985.59.

Dell XPS 13 9300 Intel Core i7-1165G7 13.3-Inch 1080p Touchscreen Laptop w/ Intel Iris Xe Graphics, 16GB LPDDR4x RAM and 1TB M.2 SSD for $985.59 from Dell with promo code SAVE12 (List price $1,549.99)Dell G15 Intel Core i5-10500H 1080p 120Hz 15.6-Inch Gaming Laptop w/ Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti, 8GB DDR4 RAM and 512GB NVMe SSD for $749.99 from Dell (List price $1,218.99)Amazon Eero 6 Dual-Band Mesh Wi-Fi 6 Router System for $195.00 from Amazon (List price $279.00)Seagate Expansion 6TB External HDD for $99.99 from Amazon (List price $159.99)Dell XPS 8940 Intel Core i7-11700 Gaming Desktop w/ Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 GPU, 16GB DDR4 RAM and 256GB NVMe SSD + 1TB HDD for $1,407.99 from Dell with promo code SAVE12 (List price $1,799.99)Dell Vostro 13 5301 Intel Core i5-1135G7 13.3-inch 108p Laptop w/ Intel Iris Xe Graphics, 8GB DDR4 RAM and 256GB NVMe SSD for $679.00 from Dell (List price $1,355.72)

Dell XPS 13 9305 Intel Core i7-1165G7 13.3-Inch 1080p Touchscreen Laptop w/ Intel Iris Xe Graphics, 16GB LPDDR4x RAM and 1TB M.2 SSD ($985.59)

Dell’s new XPS 13 9305 laptop was built as a premium work system with a machined aluminum chassis, carbon fiber palmrests and a power Intel Core i7 processor. The laptop is also exceedingly light weighing just 2.7 pounds with a touchscreen 13.3-inch 1080p display. The system has plenty of RAM with a total of 16GB and it has a large 1TB SSD too.  The XPS 13 9305 retails for $1,549.99, but you can get it now from Dell marked down to just $985.59 with promo code SAVE12.

Dell G15 Intel Core i5-10500H 1080p 120Hz 15.6-Inch Gaming Laptop w/ Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti, 8GB DDR4 RAM and 512GB NVMe SSD ($749.99)

Dell’s new G15 gaming laptop has an edgy aesthetic design and comes equipped with powerful hardware for running the latest games. This particular model is equipped with an Intel Core i5-10500H processor as well as an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti graphics chip that can run games with high settings.  The notebook also has a 120Hz display that helps to make gaming on the system all that much more enjoyable by making games feel faster and more responsive. Today you can get this system from Dell marked down from $1,218.99 to just $749.99.

Amazon Eero 6 Dual-Band Mesh Wi-Fi 6 Router System ($195.00)

Amazon’s Eero 6 Mesh Wi-Fi routers were designed to work in conjunction with each other to stretch a Wi-Fi signal over a larger area. Working together these devices can cover an area of up to 5,000 sq ft with fast Wi-Fi service.  They also support speeds of up to 500 Mbps and they have can work on two network bands at a time. Currently you can get this kit that includes one central router and two Eero 6 extenders from Amazon marked down from $279.00 to just $195.00.

Seagate Expansion 6TB External HDD ($99.99)

External HDDs like this one are excellent for backing up your files to help avoid their loss in the event of a hard drive failure. This drive can also hold an enormous amount of data with a total capacity of 6TB. Today, Amazon is offering this drive marked down from $159.99 to just $99.99.

Note: Terms and conditions apply. See the relevant retail sites for more information. For more great deals, go to our partners at TechBargains.com.

Now read:

Get CuriosityStream and KeepSolid VPN Unlimited for 60 Percent off + $10 Store CreditET Deals: Nearly $400 Off Dell XPS 8940 Intel Core i7 Nvidia RTX 3060 Gaming Desktop, Dell Vostro 13 5301 11th Gen Intel Core i5 Laptop for $679Get this Comprehensive AutoCAD Programming Training for Just $29.99

Google Nest Doorbell review: Catching up to the competition

Google’s first foray into smart doorbells started with the Nest Hello in 2018. Unfortunately, that doorbell had a small audience due to its high price and huge limitation of only working with existing wired doorbell systems. This year, though, the company is finally offering a totally wireless solution with the Google Nest Doorbell.

Without a doubt, the Nest Doorbell is the smart home entry device Google fans have been waiting for. However, this is a product people have wanted since even before the Nest Hello launched over three years ago. How many of those folks have already jumped ship to one of the many competitors out there that have offered truly wireless doorbell solutions for years?

Regardless, in this Google Nest Doorbell review, we’re going to tell you what you can expect from this highly-anticipated product.


$179
.99
Google Nest Doorbell


Buy it Now


Google Nest Doorbell

Buy it Now



$179
.99

About this Google Nest Doorbell review: I tested the Nest Doorbell over a period of five days. It was mounted at my front door running exclusively on battery power for that time. The unit was provided by Google for this review.

What you need to know about the Google Nest Doorbell

Credit: C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

Google Nest Doorbell (Battery): $179 / £179 / €199

The Google Nest Doorbell is a fully wireless smart entry camera. It has a camera with a 1,280 x 960 vertical resolution as well as a doorbell button. Although it works wirelessly, you can also wire it to your existing doorbell chime system. This makes the product much more versatile than Nest’s previous wired-only doorbell.

If you go wireless, doorbell chimes will happen on your Google Assistant-powered smart speakers. If you have Google Assistant-powered smart displays, the video feed, as well as the chime, will appear on those displays when someone rings. You’ll also get notifications on your smartphone. In fact, smartphones will be your only way to use the camera if you don’t have smart displays/speakers.

Related: The best smart home devices you can buy

Out-of-the-box, the device offers three free hours of cloud video storage. You can pay a monthly/annual fee through Nest Aware to increase that if you wish. It also has plenty of AI smarts to do cool things like recognize if someone has dropped off a package or even tell you who is at the door. Some of these features are locked behind the paid subscription, though.

The Google Nest Doorbell comes in one color around the world: Snow. This is the color seen in this review. In the United States, though, there are other color options including Linen (beige), Ivy (grayish-green), and Ash (gray).

Finally, do note that Google has rebranded the 2018 Nest Hello as the Google Nest Doorbell (Wired). It also lowered that device’s retail price. For the purposes of simplicity, we will refer to the 2021 wireless version as the Nest Doorbell in this review.

What can the Nest Doorbell do?

Credit: C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

It’s easiest to think about the Google Nest Doorbell as a small wireless security camera with a doorbell button attached. In that vein, it will do pretty much everything you want from a security camera. It will monitor your front door, alert you when it spots someone, record footage of what happens, etc.

The doorbell feature works in tandem with the camera. When someone touches the doorbell, the device will alert you on all your Google Assistant-powered devices, including your smartphone. On your phone and smart displays, you can tap a microphone button to directly communicate (audio only) with that person. If this makes you uncomfortable, there are also canned responses you can issue through the Google Assistant voice.

Audio

The audio quality of these interactions is OK. I could hear people from the doorbell just fine, and audio coming out of the doorbell sounds about as good as a loud smartphone speaker. There were some slight audio delays here and there, but nothing that impeded the conversations. I do wish there were a few more canned responses available, as the three on offer don’t really cover every hypothetical situation. These are your only choices:

“You can just leave it”
“We’ll be right there”
“No one can come to the door”

Options such as “Please come back in 10 minutes” or even a simple “Thank you very much” would be nice additions here. I understand that Google is trying to keep things simple, but there’s definitely room for expansion. The responses could at least be a little more friendly-sounding!

It should be noted, though, that the camera works flawlessly with Google Assistant and Assistant-powered smart displays. If you ask your smart display to show you the doorbell’s camera feed, it’s on the screen in a few seconds. If someone rings the bell, the chime is loud and clear and the video feed appears quickly automatically.

There is no extra setup involved with this either since you use the Google Home app to configure and operate the device, so it all just works. However, you cannot issue Assistant commands to the doorbell itself.

Camera

Unlike a lot of competitor products, the aspect ratio of the Google Nest Doorbell’s video feed is 3:4 instead of the usual 16:9. This taller ratio (seen in the screenshots above) with a 145-degree diagonal field-of-view (FoV) allows the camera to see all the way down to the floor, which helps it recognize when packages are left there. The downside, of course, is that you don’t get the same wide view of other cameras.

As for the camera itself, it is fairly large for products of this type. You can see it compared to a Google Pixel 5 below.

Interestingly, the Google Nest Doorbell has a lower resolution than the Nest Hello — 960 x 1,280 for the former and 1,200 x 1,600 for the latter. It also has a lower FoV at 145 degrees instead of 160 degrees.

Obviously, a lower resolution video feed isn’t great. The feed looks fine and I could see all the details I needed to see, but some competitor products at this price point offer the 2K resolution of the Hello or, at the very least, the standard 1080p.

Credit: C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

Google downplays this by focusing on the HDR capabilities of the camera, a feature not too many competitors offer. HDR helps with better contrast and definition between shadows and highlights. This does help a lot with making the video feed look good, but HDR combined with a high resolution would make it look much better.

Of course, it’s not like you’ll be using this for a photo shoot. For what it is, the video quality of the Nest Doorbell is good enough to get the job done, but hardly a new gold standard for the market.

AI-based alerts

Google is a software company first, so it shouldn’t be surprising to hear that the software aspects of this device are the big selling points. The camera can recognize people, packages, animals, and vehicles all separately.

This allows you to be notified not only that there’s a person at the door, but that they left a package behind. It also means you can program the camera to notify you if a car goes by but not if an animal does.

Google’s object recognition works pretty much flawlessly.

I found the camera to be incredibly accurate with this feature. It recognized people, packages, and vehicles pretty much flawlessly. It even recognized a bag of food left at my door as a package, even though it obviously wasn’t shaped like a box.

This is all possible thanks to on-device machine learning capabilities. The Nest Doorbell doesn’t need to ping Google’s servers for basic determination of what’s going on, which makes it more efficient at identifying things.

IP rating and internet outages

Since most people will install the device outside, it has an IP54 rating. This means it can prevent dust and other particle ingresses from affecting operation. It can also withstand significant water splashing, i.e. rain. The device survived tropical storm Henri when it hit my home of New Haven, CT, over last weekend, so it’s pretty durable.

Finally, if your internet goes out, the device can record up to one hour of footage on its onboard storage. When internet connectivity resumes, it will upload that footage to the cloud. See further down for more information on cloud saves and other connected features.

Can you install the Nest Doorbell yourself?

Credit: C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

If you choose to go wireless, installing the Google Nest Doorbell is simple enough that anyone can do it. If you want to make sure you can handle it, Google has a helpful tutorial on the full process.

For this Google Nest Doorbell review, I installed the device at my front door in about 15 minutes. All it took was a drill, a drill bit, and some measuring tape. In a pinch, I probably could have done it all with just a screwdriver, though if you have thicker walls you may need a drill to create pilot holes for screwing in the mount.

Outside of those tools, everything you need to install the Nest Doorbell is in its retail box. That includes the mount, a tool to detach it from the mount, and an optional wedge plate that can angle the camera slightly to the left or right to gain maximum coverage of your entryway. You’ll also need a Google account and the Google Home app on your Android or iOS smartphone.

Installing the Nest Doorbell wirelessly took me about 15 minutes with everyday tools.

If you want to see if your front door is a good fit for the Nest Doorbell, grab a measuring tape. You’ll need about two inches of width and about eight inches of height for the install. You’ll also want the center of the device to be about four feet from the floor as this is the ideal position to see both faces and packages left on the ground.

Once installed, it holds fast. The device won’t budge if you just try to yank it off. Do note, though, that the supplied removal tool is not intricate in any way. If a thief knew how to remove it, a flathead screwdriver would do the trick. As such, theft isn’t dead simple, but it also isn’t difficult. Keep this in mind if you live in a neighborhood in which this could be a problem. Thankfully, Google does offer theft protection for this product, assuming you get a police report and follow the proper procedures.

As a final note, installing the Nest Doorbell wired to your existing chime system doesn’t appear to be too difficult, either. However, I did not do that for this review, so I can’t say whether or not a professional installation would be advised.

How is the Google Nest Doorbell’s battery life?

Credit: C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

I installed the fully-charged Google Nest Doorbell in the afternoon on Thursday. By the following Monday afternoon, its battery was at 73%. Extrapolating those results, I should see about 7% battery loss each day for a total period of about two weeks before I would need to charge it.

Keep in mind, though, that your results may vary significantly from mine. For example, if your front door area is busier than mine, you’ll see reduced battery life. You’ll see further reductions if you increase the wake-up sensitivity and overall video recording/streaming quality.

Conversely, if your front door is much less active and you drop down all those settings, you could see significantly increased battery life at your home. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that low-traffic households could see over a month of battery life.

Also, it is entirely possible that my results so far don’t represent long-term results. We will update this review after having more time with the product.

If you already own a smart doorbell, it is very likely you’ll see similar battery life results with the Nest Doorbell as you do with your current device. The 6,000mAh battery inside this product is comparable to most competitors (the Ring Video Doorbell 4 has a similar capacity, for example). This combined with the controls you have for video quality, wake sensitivity, etc., should keep things fairly consistent.

If you don’t already own a wireless doorbell, it’s very difficult to judge how long this one will last you. Doorbells are like smartphones: if you have your phone’s screen brightness way up and use GPS navigation constantly you’re going to see pretty weak battery life compared to someone who doesn’t do those things as often.

Related: The best Google Nest products

Regardless of how long the Nest Doorbell lasts, it takes about five hours to charge its battery using the in-box USB-C cable (there is no wall adapter included). Its maximum charging speed is 7.5W, so you’ll want to use a charger that meets or exceeds that speed, if possible. If you’re ever curious how long you’ve got left for battery power, the Google Home app gives you that info. It will also notify you as you get close to zero.

The battery in the device is non-removable, so you’ll need to physically remove the doorbell from your front door to charge it. This is not ideal for obvious reasons, and other products (such as the aforementioned Ring Video Doorbell 4) offer swappable batteries. This is likely a case in which Google put form over function with the design of the product.

Keep in mind that if you install this wired to your doorbell chime system, you don’t need to worry about charging it. The device will draw power from your chime system. In the event of a power outage, it will operate on its battery until power returns. As such, if you don’t want to be bothered with charging the Nest Doorbell, wired is the way to go. Just make sure your chime system fits the proper requirements.

Do you need a Nest Aware subscription to use the Google Nest Doorbell?

Credit: C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

Without a Nest Aware subscription, here’s what the Google Nest Doorbell can do:

Alert you when it sees a person, animal, or vehicle
Alert you that someone has pressed the doorbell
Allow you to communicate with the person at the door through either your phone or smart display
Tell you that someone has left a package
Save one hour of onboard footage
Save three hours of cloud footage

For most folks reading this, that should be all you need to get what you pay for from the Nest Doorbell. However, a Nest Aware or Nest Aware Plus subscription does offer some perks.

A Nest Aware subscription ($6 each month or $60 each year) ups your saved cloud footage significantly from three hours to 30 days. It also offers a feature called Familiar Face Detection. This feature uses your Google Photos and Google Contacts data to actually tell you who’s at the door using facial recognition.

Unless you need tons of cloud event recording time, you probably don’t need to bother with Nest Aware.

A Nest Aware Plus subscription ($12 each month or $120 each year) gives you a full 60 days of event recording in the cloud. It also gives 24/7 video history from the past 10 days. Obviously, it also includes the Familiar Face Detection feature.

As cool as it is to have Google Assistant say “Tom is at the door,” it’s probably not worth paying a monthly fee for it. As such, unless you need tons of cloud event recording time, you probably don’t need to bother with Nest Aware for this smart doorbell.

Anything else?

Credit: C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

No Nest app: Google is moving away from the Nest app. All features of the Google Nest Doorbell, including setup, are exclusively accessible through the Google Home app.
Wi-Fi only: Although you can deliver wired power to the Nest Doorbell, you cannot deliver wired internet. As such, you’ll need a decent Wi-Fi signal (2.4GHz or 5GHz) at your front door for this to work well.
Night vision: The Nest Doorbell will switch automatically to night vision mode when appropriate. You can turn this off or leave night vision on permanently in the Google Home app.
Video feeds are not constant: Since most people will install this wirelessly, it’s important to note that it will not have a constant video feed. In other words, if you are hoping to have your doorbell camera streaming to a smart display 24/7, this won’t work for you. If there are no events happening and you haven’t manually activated the camera, the feed will be off. Even when you first open the Google Home app, you’ll see a blank screen for the camera until you manually turn it on or an event occurs.
Quiet Time: Google’s Quiet Time feature allows you to shut off notifications and audible chimes from the doorbell for a short period of time. This is helpful if you are taking a nap at home and don’t want to be disturbed. You can set Quiet Time for 30 minutes, one hour, 90 minutes, two hours, or three hours.
Privacy and video history: It is incredibly easy to get rid of any video history the doorbell records. In the Google Home app, there’s an easy-to-find red button that says “Delete video history.” A tap of that and then a confirmation tap deletes everything you have saved. Remember, too, that the AI detection smarts happen on-device, making this a relatively secure and private security camera.

Value and competition

Google Nest Doorbell
The first wireless smart doorbell from Google and Nest.
If you’ve wanted a Google Assistant-powered doorbell you could install wirelessly, it’s finally here. It might be a few years late to the party, but the Google Nest Doorbell ticks off all the essential boxes.

At $179, the Google Nest Doorbell is not cheap. If you’re looking for a basic smart doorbell experience, there are plenty of competitor products out there that will cost you less cash. Those competitors will also outdo the Nest Doorbell in its weakest area, which is camera resolution.

The Ring Video Doorbell starts at just $99 and even offers a full 1080p resolution. Like the Nest Doorbell, it’s wireless, comes in multiple colors, notifies you on your phone when someone’s at the door, and can be installed by anyone in minutes. Since it’s an Amazon product, it integrates well with the Alexa voice assistant, which can do many of the same things as Google Assistant.

Check out: The best video doorbells

If you want something with an even higher resolution, the wireless Eufy Security Video Doorbell offers 2K experience for $169. It even comes with a free wireless chime system for an audible household chime and works great without any monthly subscription.

The wireless Ring Video Doorbell 4 is technically more expensive than the Nest Doorbell at $199 but does offer quite a few advantages. It has a 1080p resolution, swappable batteries, theft protection, and noise-cancelling audio. However, it does not have free cloud backups and its AI detection features aren’t as advanced.

What the Google Nest Doorbell offers that competitors don’t is deep integration with Google Assistant and extra AI smarts. If you want a wireless doorbell that will automatically show who’s at the door on your Google Nest Hub this is literally your only option. Likewise, if you want Google’s Familiar Face Detection and accurate notifications for things like packages, the Nest Doorbell is a must-buy.

Google Nest Doorbell review: The verdict

Credit: C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

During my time with the Google Nest Doorbell, I was impressed with it. It nails all the basics one needs from a smart entry camera. It also offers a few perks for people who are already invested in a Google-powered smart home, such as smart speaker chimes and smart display feeds. Its free three hours of event recording history is a nice perk that many competitors don’t offer, and if that’s not enough you’ll only pay $6 each month for plenty more space. Battery life right now isn’t impressive, but I’m confident that most people will get better results than me due to how active the front of my house is.

The big problem Google faces with this product, though, is how many customers might not be in the market for it anymore. Google’s given its competitors years to convert buyers to other platforms, with Amazon’s Ring being the big winner. If you’ve already got a wireless Ring doorbell camera, for example, you probably won’t find many reasons to switch over to this.

The Google Nest Doorbell is now the best option for Google fans who haven’t already committed elsewhere.

Even ignoring that, this device is actually weaker in a lot of ways compared to the original Nest Hello, now known as the Nest Doorbell (Wired). The fact it offers a wireless configuration and on-device AI detection puts it ahead of that earlier product, sure. However, people who own the older Nest Doorbell won’t find much in the new one that would necessitate an upgrade, outside of the Familiar Face Detection feature and the ability to chime on smart speakers.

The bottom line here is that Google’s created a great product that might be years too late for the party. If you’re just getting into setting up a Google Assistant smart home, the Google Nest Doorbell is one of the best options — if not the best. Everyone else who’s already got a smart doorbell of some kind probably won’t find much here to sway them towards upgrading — especially for $179.

T-Mobile has been crowned the fastest network in the U.S. in new report

What you need to know

PCMag has crowned T-Mobile as the fastest carrier in the United States for the first time.
The “Uncarrier” beat out AT&T and Verizon in the outlet’s annual network test.

That Sprint merger really paid off.

T-Mobile has beat out AT&T and Verizon to become America’s fastest mobile network.

In the annual network test conducted by PCMag, T-Mobile came out on top as the fast mobile network in 2021. According to their testing, T-Mobile’s massive investment in 5G over the last few years has propelled the company ahead of AT&T and Verizon.

In our 12th annual test, drivers traveled a total of 10,626 miles, surveying 30 major US metro areas and six rural regions to find out the state of 5G from AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon. T-Mobile took a commanding lead in 5G, winning 24 cities and rural regions to AT&T’s eight and Verizon’s two; we also saw one tie between T-Mobile and Verizon and one tie between T-Mobile and AT&T.

The report points to the recent merger between T-Mobile and Sprint, which allowed the company to now cover 165 million people in the country with 5G. That, coupled with its own network investments, now enables customers to get consistent 5G speeds that AT&T and Verizon currently can’t match.

This year, for the first time, that choice is likely to be T-Mobile. T-Mobile’s winning secret isn’t much of a secret: It’s mid-band spectrum, which T-Mobile calls “ultra-capacity” 5G. Now covering more than 165 million people in cities large and small, these airwaves (bought with the Sprint acquisition) let T-Mobile’s network give consistent results between 150Mbps and 500Mbps of download speed. That’s far better than AT&T and Verizon’s 5G can do in most areas, and it secured T-Mobile’s win.

Faster download speeds signal more capacity on a network. T-Mobile’s widespread added capacity has also let it launch Magenta Max, the nation’s first truly unlimited, no-deprioritization 5G plan, and its $60/month unlimited home broadband service.

T-Mobile continues to disrupt the market in other ways as well. The company just announced that, starting on August 25, customers with select plans can redeem a free year of Apple TV+.

Researchers say that, before Trump’s ban, his tweets that had fact-check labels spread further on Twitter than those that lacked them (Jessica Guynn/USA Today)

Jessica Guynn / USA Today:
Researchers say that, before Trump’s ban, his tweets that had fact-check labels spread further on Twitter than those that lacked them  —  Twitter blocked and labeled some Donald Trump’s claims of election fraud in the run-up and aftermath of the 2020 presidential election.

Here are all the Game Pass games Xbox showed off at Gamescom 2021

Paradox Games

Gamescom doesn’t officially start until Wednesday, but Xbox got a head start on the festivities with an announcement of all the new games coming to Xbox Game Pass.

Xbox has been laser focused on its subscription platform. During E3 2021, Microsoft announced a ton of new games including all the forthcoming Microsoft Studios releases that will have day-one Game Pass availability.

Here are the games from today’s showcase coming to Game Pass.

Age of Empires IV (PC)

Into The Pit (PC / Console)

Crusader Kings III (PC / Console)

Psychonauts 2 (PC / Console)

The Gunk (PC / Console)

A new crop of Humble Games are also coming day and date to Game Pass on PC, console, and cloud gaming.

Archvale
Next Space Rebels
Midnight Fight Express
D…

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amiibo outlived competitors that spawned them and will continue to do so

There are currently 186 amiibo figures, plus hundreds of amiibo cards.

Nintendo’s amiibo figures are one of the most Nintendo things out there with the unique ability for toys to interact with video games. Yet, they weren’t even Nintendo’s original idea. The Japanese gaming company only produced them in response to the toys-to-life sensation created by Skylanders and enforced by Disney Infinity. Nintendo’s amiibo competitors have all passed on, and yet new amiibo still get produced every year.

There was a time when every new Nintendo game had amiibo compatibility, but it’s hit and miss now. On top of that, fewer amiibo are getting produced. So what does that mean for these little collectibles? Will Nintendo stop selling them completely? Or will they be a staple for Nintendo going forward? To answer that, we’ll look at the history of amiibo, evaluate their current status, and end on their future prospects.

Spyro’s Skylanders start a new fad

It’s crazy to think that amiibo have been around for seven years now. Crazier still that they were actually a response to Toys for Bob’s Skylanders toys. Nintendo was not only late to video game toys-to-life fad but seemed to drag its feet toward the production of what would eventually become amiibo the whole time.

The funny thing is, Activision initially wanted to partner with Nintendo over its RFID figure idea, but Nintendo wasn’t comfortable committing to it.

Colin Campell of Polygon wrote a great article on the story behind Skylanders back in 2014, which I highly recommend you read. But here’s the gist of it. Fred Ford and Paul Reiche were the creative minds behind this new unique video game toy. After Activision acquired several game franchises, including Spyro, the two men were asked to pick a property from one of the new acquisitions and create a game around it. Spyro was chosen, and the idea to create toys that interacted with the video game soon followed.

The funny thing is, Activision initially wanted to partner with Nintendo over its RFID figure idea, but the Japanese gaming company didn’t feel comfortable committing fully to the toys. After some time, Skylanders found their way onto store shelves in 2011, and the figures went on to become a big success. The toys-to-life craze was born. Soon Disney Infinity, Nintendo, and Lego Dimensions followed suit with their own video game figures.

amiibo enter the ring and still stand

Nintendo first dabbled with the scannable toy idea in 2013 with Pokémon Rumble U NFC Figures, brittle collectibles that came hidden in Poké Balls, so you didn’t know which one you were buying. These didn’t catch on very well, but fortunately, that didn’t deter Nintendo. The first amiibo finally released in 2014 to great success and many more followed.

Ironically, amiibo have outlived the competitors who spawned their existence.

While Skylanders started a brand new craze and become a multimillion-dollar franchise, its success only lasted a few years. Sales eventually fizzled, and currently, both the figures and games are no longer in production. Lego Dimensions and Disney Infinity died out likewise. Meanwhile, amiibo stand alone in this toys-to-life wasteland and continue to live on.

So, why do amiibo do so well? That’s due to a number of factors. For example, unlike Skylanders and Disney Infinity which required a portal accessory for scanning, the Nintendo Wii U and now the Nintendo Switch allow players to directly scan the toys with the console. Getting rid of that bulky middleman makes using these figures much more convenient. These amiibo also work with a wider range of Nintendo games instead of being tied solely to one franchise, so they have larger usability.

Toys-to-Life franchise
Initial release

Skylanders
October 14, 2011

Disney Infinity
August 18, 2013

Nintendo amiibo
June 10, 2014

Lego Dimensions
September 27, 2015

Unlike Skylanders, Nintendo already had loads of nostalgia behind it that appealed to a wide age range. Additionally, their quality design makes them feel more like collectibles than cheap toys, so both kids and adults bought them. Now Disney obviously had a big nostalgia factor too, but Nintendo was already rooted in the gaming world with quality franchises. Not to mention, collectibles for Nintendo characters were harder to come by unless you were looking for Mario or Pokémon. But with amiibo, we suddenly had access to quality figures from Metroid, Monster Hunter, Zelda, Animal Crossing, and more. Today, they’re still selling well, whether used or new.

Still going strong-ish

Used and new amiibo are still considered valuable, while most Skylanders and Disney Infinity figures aren’t worth much at all.

I remember entering Toys R Us (RIP) in 2015 and looking at the walls of amiibo figures lining the shelves. There had been an initial boom where the figures had become hard to collect (whether due to intended scarcity or underestimating their popularity is debatable), and then sales of amiibo seemed to slow down, and there was an overabundance in stores.

Strangely enough, those unpopular amiibo that first made it to the clearance sections suddenly became rare and thus valuable for completionist collectors. Then amiibo collecting seemed to pick up again when The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild released in 2017 along with its set of figures. Today, the amiibo community is still going strong, as evidenced earlier this year when Ninty Media’s unofficial amiibook on Kickstarter managed to garner the equivalent of $49,371 USD when it had only needed the equivalent of $4,094 to meet its goal. Today, used video game stores and eBay sellers can make a good profit selling just about any new or used amiibo, some of which sell for $300 or more. Meanwhile, most Skylanders and Disney Infinity figures aren’t worth much at all.

Even though Nintendo isn’t pumping out nearly as many amiibo as it did when the figures first arrived on store shelves, it continues to produce a handful each year. This is partially due to the fact that Nintendo intends to create a figure for each Super Smash Bros. Ultimate fighter, and we’re still waiting for some of the DLC characters to release.

Some amiibo are far more popular than others. Notably, when more obtuse Smash Bros amiibo land on store shelves, it’s only dedicated fans who go after them. Then there are big hits like the Zelda & Loftwing amiibo or the Animal Crossing Sanrio amiibo cards. Every single time they’ve become available at various retailers, the stock runs out within minutes. Not to mention, the Sanrio cards had a horrible US launch that made it difficult for people to buy them.

Will amiibo outlive us all?

I personally think it’s very unlikely that Nintendo will stop producing these moneymakers, especially when they sell at a high price and don’t cost that much to produce in large batches. However, I think going forward, the company will be more selective with which figures it creates. The Legend of Zelda amiibo in particular are quite popular, so I’m sure we’ll see some more figures when the Breath of the Wild sequel releases.

But how much longer will amiibo last? At the very least, I’m sure we’ll continue to see new amiibo for the rest of the Switch’s lifespan. After that, it comes down to whether or not Nintendo will think it’s worth it to include NFC scanning in its next-gen console. My guess is that NFC scanning will be dropped but that amiibo will continue to live on in a slightly different form from what we currently know them as. Perhaps they’ll solely become collectibles without NFC chips. Or maybe Nintendo will find a new way for them to interact with future hardware. At any rate, it’s easy money for Nintendo, so it would make sense for amiibo to continue on.

Viva amiibo!

What do you think about the future of amiibo? Are you a big fan of these collectibles? Do you think they’ll be around much longer? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Turing Distinguished Leader Series: Darren Murph Head of Remote at GitLab Part II

Hi, everyone! Thank you for the great response to our Distinguished Leader Series!  Here’s the second part of my talk with GitLab’s Head of Remote, Darren Murph.  If you missed part 1 of this conversation where we dig into how GitLab runs a multi-billion dollar remote-first company — you can find it here

Jonathan Siddharth:

How would you recommend managers with distributed teams think about the time zone issue? 

Darren Murph:

Time zones are the bane of any company’s existence. Unfortunately, time zones are hard for co-located companies as well. If you’ve ever worked at a co-located office in Seattle with colleagues in Singapore, you know what I’m talking about. The solution is to shift work to asynchronous workflows wherever possible. And so, if there’s anything that can be reduced to a document and written down and ingested at a time that is more suitable for a wide array of time zones, make sure that you do that. 

You’re going to need to be clear with your direct reports on ways of working. Empower and enable them with the right tools to collaborate asynchronously across time zones. And although email is asynchronous by nature, it’s not a great tool for asynchronous work because it’s inherently siloed. It’s tough to get transparency on email. 

At GitLab, we use the GitLab Platform to collaborate company-wide. If you’re a leader, make sure that there’s a tool in place, a central hallway where work can be done so that you break those chains of synchronicity wherever possible.

Jonathan Siddharth:

What tools in your toolkit do you recommend for people to shift from synchronous to asynchronous?

Darren Murph: 

Of course, I recommend GitLab, especially if you’re already using it for engineering; use it for collaboration across the entire organization. Dropbox Space is an excellent, centralized hallway. Miro and Mural are phenomenal tools. Figma is another one for those looking for tooling design and collaboration space. If you’re trying to stand up a company handbook, Almanac.io is a fantastic tool because they have structured approvals, which is very similar to the merge request. Try to simplify your tool stack as much as possible. 

At GitLab, it is written in our handbook that every work meeting must have a Google doc agenda attached in the inbox. So the meeting organizer has to draft up the agenda, the attendees’ overview, and expected outcomes, and then send the calendar invite. This way, if you’re not attending the meeting, you’re able to at least immediately click on the document, add context, add your questions, and then someone can verbalize that question for you and document the answer. This way, you’re able to contribute asynchronously, even to a process that may usually be synchronous. 

Jonathan Siddharth:

Speaking of GitLab, it sounds like you can use it for various use cases that go beyond code collaboration and co-host. Can you share a bit of the primary use cases that you use GitLab for in the company for collaboration?

Darren Murph:

Yeah, we use it across the company. So, even though our designers don’t design illustrations in GitLab, they would share those in something like Figma. But we would still start a GitLab issue within the design team to collaborate on Figma links. And that enables transparency.

Even those who don’t work in design or demonstration can jump into the GitLab Platform and have visibility into their team. In addition, this approach lets them provide input and feedback. And so, when you use it as a collaboration tool, we recognize that it becomes advantageous outside of engineering. We want to work to remove silos actively, and a great way to do that is to choose a collaboration platform like GitLab and funnel your work through it.

Jonathan Siddharth:

Do you have any best practices that you would recommend for remote-first companies in their use of video conferencing software like Zoom and so on? And it sounds like for a lot of these; it’s not just the tool; it’s also how you use them and what’s the process scaffolding you put around it.

Darren Murph:

Yeah, it has to be a combination of both. We use Zoom. It’s a pretty boring solution, but it scales well. And so if we do have a company all-hands and we need 1300 people on a Zoom call, it will stand up to that. But speaking of using common tools in uncommon ways, if we have to have a work-related meeting, we will have the meeting as either 25 minutes instead of 30 or 50 instead of 60. 

Now Google calls these speedy meetings, but this kind of goes back to how we use it. We cut the meeting after 25 minutes instead of 30 so that you aren’t back to back with the schedule. You will undoubtedly meet someone experiencing Zoom fatigue, and it can be as simple as adding five or 10 minutes here and there to give folks a breather. I think we’re in the earliest of innings, so watch the space. Some amazing innovations are coming out of that.

Jonathan Siddharth:

That sounds great. And earlier on, you mentioned how you like to set up these coffee chats with people within the first month to help new joiners get fully onboarded. Are there any tools or products that you found that solve that use case well?

Darren Murph:

If you want to randomize it, Donut is a great solution. But I would also say, create a community or topical channels if you’re a leader and have access to administrative space within Slack. If you create spaces like hiking or cooking, or location channels, you’ll find that people join sub-channels relevant to them. And then, once they’re in that sub-community, it becomes easier to set up coffee chats and make connections.

Jonathan Siddharth:

That’s super helpful. Can you share your advice to founders running distributed teams today? For example, how do you pull off a happy hour with a globally distributed group of people in different time zones?

Darren Murph:

Yeah, so I’ll give you an example of a 24-hour virtual pizza party. So, as a celebration for a certain team, we had a 24-hour virtual pizza party. We had our employees enjoy pizza with their families, bill it back to the company, and share their pictures. It’s a straightforward solution, but it reinforces that groupthink global demeanor. Instead, we should celebrate the differences among us, including the best in residence in geography.

You don’t have to plan a virtual happy hour, especially a synchronous one every week, to feel like you’re bringing your team together. This practice is a bit paradoxical, but the more you let go of your team and empower your people to go out in their communities and then share those videos and photos with the team, the closer the individuals on your team will get because they see each other’s real personalities, and what makes them unique. 

Jonathan Siddharth:

That sounds great! Do you use Slack for messaging, or do you use some other tool?

Darren Murph:

We use Slack, but we expire all of our Slack messages after 90 days, and this is a very simple forcing function so that we don’t do long-form, deep work in Slack. When we realize incubation is happening in a Slack channel, we create a GitHub issue and port the conversation so that the work continues over there. Slack is just a medium to share different GitLab links to ensure that we continue to work in the most transparent way possible. 

Jonathan Siddharth:

And what is the repository of knowledge at GitLab?

Darren Murph:

It won’t surprise you that we use the GitLab Handbook. And we use the merge request functionality so that anyone in the company can propose any page in the company handbook. So for companies already using GitLab, it is possible to build your company handbook. Also, as I’ve mentioned earlier, Almanac.io is a great place to start.

Jonathan Siddharth:

That’s good to know. Regarding one-on-ones that happen between managers in a fully distributed team, do you have any best practices for managers on how to conduct them?

Darren Murph:

Yeah, so every one-on-one has a Google doc, an ongoing agenda. And what’s great about this is it allows topics that you didn’t get to cover to stay there still, and then you’re able to move it up to the next date so that things don’t just fall away. 

A side note here is that our team does async weeks where we decline all internal meetings, and we move everything async every six weeks. We do this with one-on-ones as well. 

The last thing I’ll mention here is to make sure that the one-on-one is the direct reports meeting. I see many leaders have one-on-ones where they direct the entire game, which goes back to being a director. So they see a one-on-one as an opportunity to list out all of the to-dos for their direct report. But the problem with that is it doesn’t give the direct report a medium to voice their challenges or ask questions or talk about career development.

So the manager has to be very careful not to override the one-on-one. Instead, the manager should see it as an opportunity to unblock instead of just loading someone up with to-do tasks.

Jonathan Siddharth:

That’s super helpful. Have you seen any good tools that people use for recording and transcribing meetings to make a synchronous meeting count some of the benefits of an async meeting, or do you intentionally avoid doing that?

Darren Murph:

There are some tools. Firefly is one. Then there is Otter, of course. I know many sales teams use Gong, an excellent tool for analyzing those calls and helping sales teams make recommendations for changes in their behavior. I’m in favor of leveraging technology to make lives easier. However, some of those tools can be a bit finicky because they are just raw transcription tools. So sometimes they miss the context or create sentences that didn’t happen, so they’re not perfect, but they’re certainly better than no documentation at all.

Jonathan Siddharth:

As many companies think about their post-pandemic work strategy, what is your advice for previously office-centric companies? Now they’ve remained distributed. Their teams, probably a majority of the people at the company, prefer to be the work from home—work from anywhere culture. What is your advice for leaders at those companies on how they think about their post-pandemic work strategy?

Darren Murph:

So I mentioned a few points here, but before I do that, I would say go to allremote.info and download the remote playbook. That is the blueprint for making this transition, and we recently refreshed it specifically for the use case you just mentioned. 

We want to help leaders build long-term sustainable remote work environments. A lot of leaders are keeping some office space, and they’re attempting to go hybrid. There’s this thought that hybrid is going to be the best of both worlds. But without a lot of intentionalities, it can easily become the worst of both worlds. 

You do not want to foster an environment where a subset of your organization works office-first. And a subset works remote-first. You want everyone working remote-first because that makes your company more resilient to future crises. And if you do maintain an office, you want to make sure that it’s not the epicenter of power. You don’t want people going there to rub shoulders with the right people or advance their careers. I realize this sounds crazy, but if they go to the office, they should only go there to work remotely from the office and treat it more like a coworking space. 

The last piece of advice I want to reiterate to leaders is if you are reopening an office, I would advise you not to go back at all, and definitely don’t be the first one back in the office, because it sends the signal that the office is still the epicenter of power. And if you have spent the last 18 or 24 months building remote muscle through the pandemic, all of that will evaporate if you send the signal that everyone needs to be in a physical space, else they are risking their career. So leaders need to be mindful of the signals they are sending.

Jonathan Siddharth:

And what have you seen so far, Darren, regarding companies that run surveys in their team? I’m curious what you’ve seen from your vantage point about what the employees prefer. And is that any different from what management tends to choose in a choice like this?

Darren Murph:

We just surveyed almost 4,000 people globally. You can search for GitLab’s Remote Work Report and dig into all sorts of data, but I want to call out a few points here that I think are pertinent to this conversation.

One in three people said that if their work refused to allow flexibility coming out of COVID, they would just find another job. And I think this number will only increase as we move out of the pandemic. People at large already enjoy the freedom and autonomy of remote work during the worst of times. 

So from a talent acquisition and retention standpoint, there’s no going back for many people. Organizations are going to have to answer the question as to what is their stance on workplace flexibility. 

The other thing is this disconnect between people saying that they love remote work and saying that the organization hasn’t yet built the infrastructure to support them. So people are raising their hands and saying: “I love remote work,” but they’re also saying: “My company feels disorganized and unprepared for this change.” So I think this is an excellent opportunity for leaders to acknowledge where people generally want to go and build proper infrastructure for them to work in a remote setting.

Jonathan Siddharth:

Based on what you just said, what can a company do to be best in class to prepare for a remote-first workforce?

Darren Murph:

Honestly, the first thing you can do is hire a Head of Remote or put someone in charge of the remote transition. There’s nothing more important to the company than signaling that this is a serious and long-term consideration. Most importantly, if someone is in charge of the transition, they can then be responsible for going around the organization and pressure testing, all of the things that we mentioned earlier.

The other element I would recommend here is to invest in L & D. You have to remember that not everyone will know how to work well in a remote setting. Not every manager fully understands the nuances of managing in a remote environment. And for some of these people, you will have to upskill and teach them. So L & D organizations are spinning up things like editorial workshops to teach people how to communicate well through the written word. In a remote setting, that’s a critical skill. So the organization will be on the hook for upskilling employees, which will be setting them up for success when the future is remote.

Jonathan Siddharth:

That’s super interesting. When you hire global talent worldwide, people come from different cultures and backgrounds; there are societal, cultural norms for people growing up in other countries. Is there something GitLab does intentionally to bridge that cultural gap to get people more comfortable with a particular way of working?

For example, in some cultures, people are not comfortable speaking out against a manager’s deadline. They don’t feel comfortable debating and disagreeing with an idea and brainstorming. Is this something that you observe, and if so, is there anything you do at GitLab to bring together people from different cultures to do a more standard way of working?

Darren Murph:

There are two things you can do here. The first is to be explicit in powering, recommending, and encouraging things like dissent. We have a sub-value that’s titled ‘The Value in Dissent.’ So we write down that you are empowered and encouraged to show disagreement. I understand that having it written down for some cultures isn’t enough because perhaps the employee has worked in an organization where dissent was encouraged. Still, when they tried to do it, the outcome wasn’t so positive for them. So now they’re a bit hesitant to believe what’s written down. 

In that case, I think the only next thing you can do is reinforce it by leadership. It pretty much has to be top-down. Ensure that your senior leaders are open to dissent and open to that kind of feedback from people. Make sure that you share it as transparently as possible so that when other people see things like this happening, they’ll perhaps be more comfortable and more likely to read into it themselves. It’s critical from a cultural standpoint to lead by example. Because to your point, not everyone’s going to believe a document. 

Jonathan Siddharth:

I’ve seen you reference these written-down values a few times in our chat. So how does the company go about compiling this handbook of values?

Darren Murph:

It started a long time ago, and it’s a living, breathing document. We made hundreds of updates and iterations to the GitLab Values page in 2020. So for many companies, values were written one time by the founding team, and then they just collect dust in the corner.

I would encourage teams to build it with a tool like GitLab or Almanac and empower the entire team to contribute feedback to make it more robust. If it’s a living, breathing document, people are more likely to adhere to the values. In truth, culture is just a barometer of how well values are adhered to. So a lot of teams will wonder: “How do I create culture?”. Well, write great values, and the culture will be how well those values are adhered to.

Jonathan Siddharth:

I think that’s a great place to start, Darren. This conversation was super helpful and valuable for all leaders trying to think about building successful remote-first companies. Thank you so much for taking the time to have this conversation with me today. And what’s the place where people who enjoyed listening to you can learn more, where should they go?

Darren Murph:

Thank you for the forum. Thanks all for your attention. Be sure to check out allremote.info to download the playbook that I’ve authored for GitLab. You’ll find me on LinkedIn, Twitter, the usual places at @DarrenMurph.

Watch the complete interview.

Image Credit: provided by the author, jonathan siddharth; thank you!

The post Turing Distinguished Leader Series: Darren Murph Head of Remote at GitLab Part II appeared first on ReadWrite.

Fail of the Week: Learning How Not to Silver Solder

Sure, there are subtleties, but by and large it’s pretty easy to pick up soldering skills with a little practice. But wait! Not all soldering is created equal, and as [Quinn Dunki] learned, silver soldering is far harder to get right.

Granted, the job [Quinn] is working on is much more demanding than tacking some components to a PCB. She has been building a model steam engine, a task fit to put anyone’s machining skills to the test. And a steam engine needs a boiler, which is where the silver soldering comes in. As she explains in the video below, silver soldering, or “hard” soldering, uses solder that melts at a much higher temperature than “soft” solders like we’re used to in electronics. That’s a big advantage in the heat and pressure of a boiler, but it does pose some problems, many of which [Quinn] managed to discover as she tried to assemble her copper beast.

It turns out that heating a big hunk of copper evenly without burning off the flux actually isn’t that easy, though you can’t say she didn’t give it the old college try. In the process, she managed to share a number of tidbits that were really interesting, like the fact that drawing acetylene from a tank too fast can be dangerous, or that model steam boilers have to be certified by qualified inspectors. In the end, her boiler couldn’t be salvaged, and was put to the saw to determine the problem, which seems to be her initial choice of heating with oxyacetylene; after that initial failure, there was little she could do to save the boiler.

As [Quinn] says, “Failure is only failure if you don’t learn from it.” And so it may be a bit unfair to hang “Fail of the Week” on this one, but still — she has to go back to the beginning on the boiler. And we already know that model steam engines aren’t easy.

EA is opening the patents for some of its accessibility tech

A player uses the Ping System in Apex Legends to alert their team of the presence of a “Shield Battery”. | Image: Electronic Arts

Electronic Arts is pledging to open the patents for some of its accessibility-related tech, including the much-celebrated Apex Legends ping system, the company announced today. EA says it won’t file infringement lawsuits against people or companies for using tech that falls under patents listed in the pledge.

The ping system in Apex Legends, which allows people to play the team-based game without hearing or speaking, has been praised both as an impressive alternative to voice chat and as a great accessibility feature for players with a variety of disabilities. A patent that covers the system (US 11,097,189) was issued the same day as EA’s announcement of the pledge.

Along with the ping system patent, EA is opening patents for the tech…

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Walmart is launching a new white label delivery service

Image: Walmart

Walmart plans to offer its logistics and delivery services to other companies as part of a new last-mile delivery business, the company announced on Monday. The service, called Walmart GoLocal, hopes to serve as a white label delivery offering for businesses big and small, and yet another way for Walmart to try to edge out Amazon.

Details on Walmart GoLocal are fairly sparse, though Walmart does say the service will be “competitively priced” and that it has “already established a number of contractual agreements with national and enterprise retail clients.” Walmart tells The Verge pricing will be based on “the needs of the client and based on what they want to offer to their customers.” The GoLocal website offers a few more details:…

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Samsung notifying buyers that their new foldables and watches will be very late

Credit: Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Some people who pre-ordered the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 and other new devices are getting emails notifying them of shipping delays.
It looks like many will need to wait until September.
Samsung’s email cites higher-than-expected demand as the reason.

Pre-orders for the new slate of Samsung devices opened on August 11. The company said that shipments of those pre-orders should arrive on or before August 27, with general sales beginning the same day. However, it appears Samsung is having trouble keeping up.

Some folks in Germany who pre-ordered the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, Z Flip 3, and new Samsung smartwatches, are seeing emails from Samsung notifying them of shipping delays (via All About Samsung). In some cases, the emails say it could be mid-September before they see their new products arrive.

See also: Our review of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

Samsung says these delays are due to the high demand for these new products. This tracks with previous information we’ve heard about pre-orders for the new devices exceeding Samsung’s highest projections.

So far, we haven’t seen any reports of these emails hitting customers in the United States. However, there are quite a few reports of these landing in Germany, so we expect it’s only a matter of time before we see people receiving them in other countries.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, Z Flip 3, and new smartwatches are getting good reviews around the web. It seems Samsung might have a trio of winners on its hands. Do note, though, that there are no reports yet for delays of the Galaxy Buds 2.

Flockjay cuts at least half of its workforce as it pivots away from bootcamps into B2B SaaS

Flockjay, a bootcamp startup that helps laid off people and job seekers break into tech, cut half of its own employees amid a broader pivot to a B2B SaaS platform, TechCrunch has learned from sources close to the company.

The layoffs impacted every nontechnical team at Flockjay, including admission advisers, biz ops and development, partnerships, recruiting and marketing professionals. An estimated 30 to 45 people were laid off via an all-hands meeting, which accounts for at least half of Flockjay’s full-time staff. A hiring list of those impacted has already been highly circulated on LinkedIn.

“As a mission-driven organization, we care deeply about our graduates not only landing jobs, but also earning promotions and becoming future leaders of their companies. We learned while growing how important it is to invest early in building scalable support for our alumni, the teams they are on, and all mission-aligned sales organizations to level the playing field,” said CEO Shaan Hathiramani in a statement to TechCrunch. “That meant making the difficult but necessary decision to run our classes in a more limited capacity while we focus on building that platform. We recognize that this decision has real human consequences, especially considering how talented and tightknit our team is.”

The startup graduated from Y Combinator in 2019 with a simple goal: serve as an onramp for people to break into tech careers. Flockjay’s core offering is a 10-week sales training bootcamp that helps place graduates into sales jobs across tech companies — about 80% of the company’s students find a job within the first six months of graduation, the company said in January. The graduates of the course, otherwise known as Flockjay Tech Fellows, make an average of $75,000 upon graduation.

This core offering will continue to function but in a limited capacity for now, according to documents obtained by TechCrunch. It will come at a cost to diverse talent. In a previous interview, Flockjay confirmed that roughly 40% of students don’t have a four-year college degree; half of the students identify as female or nonbinary, and half of the company’s students identify as Black or Hispanic.

As Hathiramani’s comment alludes to, the company has spent years training students on how to be competitive hires for sales teams, so assumedly, it has key insight on what tech companies need today from an infrastructure and human perspective. A B2B SaaS tool focused on sales operations and efficiency could bring Flockjay more predictable revenue and assumedly less labor-intensive work.

Layoffs could signal changing tides for the broader edtech industry, a sector revitalized by the pandemic. While it is true that learners shifted online, there are still questions around what purpose non-accredited training programs, such as Flockjay, serve, one investor said. With so many options in the market, users have optionality on what service they frequent — and the service may indeed be the one that has a flashy university partnership that validates their program and offers a safety net.

Flockjay’s struggles also put a spotlight on the highly scrutinized income-share agreements, ISAs. The financial instrument essentially allows students to avoid paying upfront fees to attend a bootcamp, and then ultimately pay back class fees through a percentage of their future income. While ISAs play a role in making education more accessible in the beginning, satisfying those agreements post-employment can be where the controversy begins around liability. Lambda School, a well-known company in the tech bootcamp world, also uses ISAs. The startup announced that it would be doing a broader restructuring earlier this year, while also laying off 65 of its employees.

Flockjay has raised $11 million in known ventures and capital to date. Since its founding, the startup has attracted investments from Serena Williams, Gabrielle Union and Will Smith, along with institutional investors including Lightspeed, Coatue, Y Combinator, eVentures, Salesforce Ventures, the Impact America Fund and Cleo Capital.

FBI says a man phished thousands of iCloud accounts via an email scam where he impersonated customer support, stealing 620K photos and 9K videos until mid-2018 (Michael Finnegan/Los Angeles Times)

Michael Finnegan / Los Angeles Times:
FBI says a man phished thousands of iCloud accounts via an email scam where he impersonated customer support, stealing 620K photos and 9K videos until mid-2018  —  A Los Angeles County man broke into thousands of Apple iCloud accounts and collected more than 620,000 private photos and videos …

Ramp and Brex draw diverging market plans with M&A strategies

Earlier today, spend management startup Ramp said it has raised a $300 million Series C that valued it at $3.9 billion. It also said it was acquiring Buyer, a “negotiation-as-a-service” platform that it believes will help customers save money on purchases and SaaS products.

The round and deal were announced just a week after competitor Brex shared news of its own acquisition — the $50 million purchase of Israeli fintech startup Weav. That deal was made after Brex’s founders invested in Weav, which offers a “universal API for commerce platforms.”

From a high level, all of the recent deal-making in corporate cards and spend management shows that it’s not enough to just help companies track what employees are expensing these days. As the market matures and feature sets begin to converge, the players are seeking to differentiate themselves from the competition.

But the point of interest here is these deals can tell us where both companies think they can provide and extract the most value from the market.

These differences come atop another layer of divergence between the two companies: While Brex has instituted a paid software tier of its service, Ramp has not.

Earning more by spending less

Let’s start with Ramp. Launched in 2019, the company is a relative newcomer in the spend management category. But by all accounts, it’s producing some impressive growth numbers. As our colleague Mary Ann Azevedo wrote:

Since the beginning of 2021, the company says it has seen its number of cardholders on its platform increase by 5x, with more than 2,000 businesses currently using Ramp as their “primary spend management solution.” The transaction volume on its corporate cards has tripled since April, when its last raise was announced. And, impressively, Ramp has seen its transaction volume increase year over year by 1,000%, according to CEO and co-founder Eric Glyman.

Ramp’s focus has always been on helping its customers save money: It touts a 1.5% cash back reward for all purchases made through its cards, and says its dashboard helps businesses identify duplicitous subscriptions and license redundancies. Ramp also alerts customers when they can save money on annual versus monthly subscriptions, which it says has led many customers to do away with established T&E platforms like Concur or Expensify.

All told, the company claims that the average customer saves 3.3% per year on expenses after switching to its platform — and all that is before it brings Buyer into the fold.

You can now buy the $299 Oculus Quest 2 with 128GB of storage

Following its announcement late last month, Facebook’s new 128GB model of the Oculus Quest 2 is now available to buy. You can purchase the VR headset from the company’s website for the same $299 price as the previous 64GB base model. “Long story short? We’ve created this 128GB model so that players can easily store and access more games and apps on a single device,” Facebook says of the new variant.

Facebook announced the 128GB model at the same time it issued a voluntary recall of the Quest 2 to address an issue with the original face insert that came with the headset. The company temporarily stopped selling the Quest 2 for about a month so that it could add a new silicone face cover inside the box of each new unit. If you’re a current Quest 2 owner, you can request Facebook send you the new silicone cover by visiting the My Devices section of the account settings. The new 128GB model also comes with the silicone cover inside the box.

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Engadget.

ForgeRock files for IPO as identity and access management business grows

ForgeRock filed its form S-1 with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) this morning as the identity management provider takes the next step toward its IPO.

The company did not provide initial pricing for its shares, which will trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol FORG. The IPO is being led by Morgan Stanley and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., with the company being valued as high as $4 billion, according to Bloomberg, which is a significant uplift over the $730 million post-money value that PitchBook had for the company after its last round in 2020.

With the ever-increasing volume of cybersecurity attacks against organizations of all sizes, the need to secure and manage user identities is of growing importance. Based in San Francisco, ForgeRock has raised $233 million in funding across multiple rounds. The company’s last round was a $93.5 million Series E announced in April 2020, which was led by Riverwood Capital alongside Accenture Ventures. At that time, CEO Fran Rosch told TechCrunch that the round would be the last before an IPO, which was also what former CEO Mike Ellis told us after the startup’s $88 million Series D in September 2017.

While the timing of its IPO might have been unclear over the last few years, the company has been on a positive trajectory for growth. In its S-1, ForgeRock reported that as of June 30, its annual recurring revenue (ARR) was $155 million, representing 30% year-over-year growth. 

While revenue is growing, losses are narrowing as the company reported a $20 million net loss down from $36 million a year ago. There certainly is a whole lot of room to grow, as the company estimates that the total global addressable market for identity services to be worth $71 billion. 

Among the many competitors that ForgeRock faces is Okta, which went public in 2017 and has been growing in the years since. In March, Okta acquired cloud identity startup Auth0 for $6.5 billion in a deal that raised a few eyebrows. Another competitor is Ping Identity, which went public in 2019 and is also growing, reporting on August 4 that its ARR hit $279.6 million in its quarter ended June 30, for a 19% year-over-year gain. There have also been a few big exits in the space over the years, including Duo Security, which was acquired by Cisco for $2.35 billion in 2018.

“ForgeRock has a good access management tool and they continue to be a strong player in customer identity and access management (CIAM),” commented Michael Kelley, senior research director at Gartner.

Kelley noted that in 2020, ForgeRock converted most of its core access management services to a SaaS delivery model, which helped the company catch up with the rest of the market that already offered access management as SaaS. Also last year the company expanded into identity governance, introducing a brand new identity, governance and administration (IGA) product.

“I think one of the more interesting products that ForgeRock offers is ForgeRock Trees, which is a no-code/low-code orchestration tool for building complex authentication and authorization journeys for customers, which is particularly helpful in the CIAM market,” Kelly added.

ForgeRock was founded in 2010, but its roots go back even further to an open-source single sign-on project known as OpenSSO that was created by Sun Microsystems in 2005. When Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems in early 2010, a number of its open-source efforts were left to languish, which is what led a number of former Sun employees to start ForgeRock. 

Over the last decade, ForgeRock has expanded significantly beyond just providing a single sign-on to providing an identity platform that can handle consumer, enterprise and IoT use-cases. The company’s platform today handles identity and access management as well as identity governance.

The ability to scale is a key selling point that ForgeRock makes in the S-1, noting that its platform can handle over 60,000 user-based access transactions per second per customer. 

“As of June 30, 2021, we had four customers with 100 million or more licensed identities, the company stated in the S-1. “Our ability to serve mission-critical needs in complex environments for large customers enables us to grow our base of large customers and expand within each of them. “

 

YouTube is forcing the popular Groovy Discord music bot offline

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Google-owned YouTube is starting to crack down on Discord music bots. The search giant has sent a cease and desist to the owners of the popular Groovy Bot, which lets Discord users play music from YouTube videos and is installed on more than 16 million Discord servers. Google wants the service gone within seven days, and Groovy is complying by shutting down its bot on August 30th.

“Groovy has been a huge part of my life over the past five years. It started because my friend’s bot sucked and I thought I could make a better one,” says Nik Ammerlaan, Groovy Bot owner, in a message announcing the closure. The Groovy Bot sources music from YouTube and allows Discord users to play and share it in servers where the bot is installed.

Groovy Bot…

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Linktree partners with PayPal to allow users globally to accept direct payments

Linktree, the popular “link in bio” service with more than 16 million users, is partnering with PayPal to expand its recently launched “Commerce Links” tools for direct payment on Linktree globally. The Melbourne-based startup says creators in over 200 countries where PayPal operates can now accept payments through the transaction tools.

Launched in March, Commerce Links allow users to take payments directly on their Linktree profile without opening a new browser or tab. The new integration lets Linktree customers connect their PayPal account and receive payments from their followers or customers via PayPal, a debit card or a credit card. Linktree notes users can also access information regarding their transactions, payment conversion rate and more. The company says the available relevant data is meant to help creators manage their digital presence.

“As the creator economy grows, creators want new ways to collect payments and support from their audience with as little friction as possible,” said Linktree co-founder and CEO Alex Zaccaria in a statement. “We are excited to be collaborating with PayPal to further expand our solutions to our users globally and enable them to further manage and monetize their digital presence.”

There are two types of Commerce Links that creators can use to take payments from their followers and customers: A “Support Me Link” allows Linktree users to collect payments and donations from their visitors, while “Request Links” lets customers and followers request goods and services from creators directly from their Linktree profile.

Linktree says its collaboration with PayPal is the latest in a series of creator-focused efforts. The partnership announcement comes days after Linktree announced its acquisition of automated music link aggregation platform Songlink/Odesli. Linktree is integrating Songlink/Odesli into its newly launched “Music Link” feature, which automatically displays the same song or album across all music streaming services to let users listen to content on their preferred platform.

Founded in 2016, Linktree now competes with several “link in bio” platforms, including Shorby, Linkin.bio and Beacons. In March, Linktree announced it raised $45 million in Series B funding. The funding round was co-led by Index Ventures and Coatue, with participation from returning investors AirTree Ventures and Insight Partners.

Twitter boosts Spaces by showing which ones your friends are attending

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Twitter is experimenting with a way to make it easier to find Spaces that you might be interested in. Some users on iOS or Android will now see if someone they follow is listening in on a Space right at the top of their timelines, according to the Spaces Twitter account.

Twitter has already been surfacing Spaces in that top bar (where you might have also seen Fleets before Twitter shut them down), but previously, it only showed Spaces from people you follow who were hosting the social audio rooms. Now, though, you might also see when somebody you follow is tuning into one.

we’re experimenting with ways to help you discover more Spaces. for some of you on iOS and android, if someone you follow is listening to a Space, you’ll see it at…

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Digital locker app Movies Anywhere adds A.I.-powered lists to organize your library

Movies Anywhere, an app that allows you to centralize your digital movie collection from across services, is rolling out a new feature that will help you make better sense of your growing library. The company today introduced an A.I.-powered feature called “My Lists,” which automatically groups movies together based on any number of factors — like genre, actors, franchise, theme, and more.

For digital movie collectors with larger libraries, the feature could make browsing through the available options feel more like scrolling through the recommendations you’d find on a modern-day streaming service, like Netflix. That is, instead of scrolling down through endless pages showing you all your purchased movies in order of purchase or alphabetically, as before, you can now quickly scan rows where the content organized in ways that make it easier to discover what’s actually in your library.

For example, if you had purchased all the movies from a particular franchise, they would now be on their own row together. This is an improvement over how you had to locate these movies in your collection before — where they’d be sandwiched in between the other titles you bought in between the franchise purchases.

You may also discover that you own a lot of movies within a particular category, like “Action Thrillers,” or those with a central theme, like “strong female friendships,” which could help you narrow down your movie night selection.

These algorithmically-created lists can also be edited, allowing you to add or remove titles — or even delete the list altogether.

Image Credits: Movies Anywhere

Plus, you can now make lists of your own, too. So you could make a list of favorites, movies you want to watch with your family, or however else you want to further organize your collection. You could even use the feature to make a “to watch” list, of movies you’ve purchased, but hadn’t yet made time for.

The Movie Anywhere app has been around for years, but is now jointly operated by Disney, Universal, WB, Sony Pictures and 20th Century Fox, after migrating to a new platform back in 2017. Its biggest selling point for digital movie collectors is that you can get to all the movies you bought from various services in one place. That includes digital downloads offered by iTunes, Vudu, Prime Video, YouTube, Xfinity and others. Before, you would have to switch from app to app to figure out if you had ever purchased a given title.

My Lists is one of many features the company has added over time to keep its app feeling current. Last year, for instance, it introduced a digital movie lending feature, called Screen Pass, and it earlier had launched a co-watching feature called Watch Together which let users watch with up to nine friends.

The new My Lists is available today in the Movies Anywhere mobile app, desktop and on streaming devices from the navigation bar.

 

 

 

Some are raising concerns about harmful uses of “netflow data”, used to map traffic’s flow across networks and that some ISPs allow to be sold to third parties (Joseph Cox/VICE)

Joseph Cox / VICE:
Some are raising concerns about harmful uses of “netflow data”, used to map traffic’s flow across networks and that some ISPs allow to be sold to third parties  —  ISPs are quietly distributing “netflow” data that can, among other things, trace traffic through VPNs.  —  Joseph Cox