Month: March 2019

San Diego Padres stay classy with ‘Anchorman’ race

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The Milwaukee Brewers race sausages (tasty!). The Washington Nationals race presidents (America!). But the latest entry into the MLB comically sized mascots running for the laughs of drunk baseball fans might be the classiest.

The San Diego Padres debuted the Anchorman runners on Friday, and in the words of Ron Burgundy, “Don’t act like you’re not impressed.”

Burgundy ran away with the win, handily beating Champ Kind, Brian Fantana, and noted lamp fan, Brick Tamland.  Read more…

More about Baseball, Anchorman, Culture, and Sports

A look at new power banks from OmniCharge and Fuse Chicken

When you’ve been doing this job long enough, you start to develop strange interests (though some might compellingly argue that strange interests are a prerequisite). Lately for me it’s been power banks. Quite possibly the least sexy product in all of consumer electronics outside of the ever-ubiquitous dongle.

I don’t know what to tell you. Blame the fact that I’m traveling every other week for this job. There are also all of the liveblogs from years’ past that got cut off in the last few minutes as my poor ancient MacBook put itself to sleep during those last precious battery percentages. Low batteries give me anxiety. I’m the guy who’s the first to notice when your phone’s screenshot is below 10 percent.

So the power bank has become constant accessory in my life, both home and on the road. Until last year, I used to carry a massive one that was just north of 20,000mAh. The peace of mind to back pain ration seemed sensible enough, but I learned the hard way that, not only do Chinese airports have a limit on battery size, they chuck yours in the trash without a second thought if you go over. It’s a quick way to lose $150.

The good news, however, is that between USB-C, wireless charging and the magic of crowdfunding, it seems we might be living through the golden age of the power bank. I know, right? What a time to be alive.

Point is, there are a lot of choices out there. Anker and Amazon’s house brand RAVPower both offer some good options on a budget. There’s also mainstay Mophie for those who don’t mind paying a bit of a premium for design.

Fuse Chicken was actually a brand that was new to me when they hit me up to try out their latest product. It’s a name I definitely would have remembered — because, honestly, it’s pretty terrible. Memorable, but terrible. Maybe that’s why the company went with such a mundane name for what’s a really interesting charger.

My dad ones told me that he gave my sister and I boring first names because we had such an unusual surname. I have no idea if this is true, but it’s an interesting story and could well apply here.

The Universal is a good example of making the most of out a form factor. It manages to jam a lot of features in without creating a Frankenstein’s Monster worthy of the name Fuse Chicken. On its face, the product looks like a black and white version of Amazon’s default power bricks. It serves that purpose, of course, coupled with a trio of swappable international wall adapters (bonus points for travelers).

But the brick also sports a 6,700mAh battery inside, so you can continue charging gadgets while unplugged. That’s ideal for a phone — you can keep a laptop alive for a bit as well, but you’re going to burn through that pretty quickly. There’s also a wireless charging pad up top, so you can power up another phone or, say, a new set of AirPods at the same time. The side of the device features a small display showing off how much juice is left.

It’s great having a bank that’s also a plug, though like Apple’s brick, it’s much too massive to plug into many vertical outlets. I learned this lesson the hard way on a recent coast to coast flight. Thankfully, though, it’s compatible with Apple’s extension cable.

OmniCharge, meanwhile, is a company I’ve been following since their earliest Kickstarter days. Matter of fact, the aforementioned power bank that’s currently sitting in a Chinese garbage dump is one of their products. R.I.P. noble battery pack.

The Omni Mobile 12,800 mAh is a much more basic product that the company’s earliest offerings. There’s no display for power information here — instead you have to rely on four lights to let you know how much juice is left.

As with most of the company’s products, I do quite like the design language. It’s subtle and unobtrusive and fits nicely inside a backpack. It’s definitely too big for carrying around in a pocket, however. Thanks the wonders of USB it will charge a laptop, as well, though once again, you’re going to run through that 12,800 mAh pretty quickly, if you do.

The Fuse Chicken and OmniCharge run $85 and $99, respectively. They’ve both served me well as travel companions these last few weeks. Here’s to long flights and avoiding life’s landfill.

Valentine’s Day gifts that your girlfriend will actually want

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Valentine’s Day can be a weird holiday to shop for. Every gift option seems to be themed and covered in hearts. That’s fun for the few days surrounding February 14, but what about the rest of the year? What are you supposed to do with a teddy bear holding a plush heart in July?

Skip the heart-shaped jewelry this year and get your girlfriend something she really wants for Valentine’s Day. Whether she’s a plant mom, into tech, or a beauty guru, we’ve got you covered. And look, we know V-Day is the sex holiday — we got you there, too. Who says Valentine’s Day gifts strictly have to be cheesy and romantic? Not us. Read more…

More about Gift Guide, Mashable Shopping, Shopping Amazon, Shopping Linkshare, and Valentines Day 2019

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In San Francisco, a fight over a homeless shelter shines a harsh light on a conflicted population

As of 2017, there were roughly 7,000 people living without homes in San Francisco, a number that comprises minors — a lot of them. The San Francisco Unified School District estimates that as of 2017, roughly 2,100 of the children in the school system were homeless —  a number that it said looked to be escalating, not shrinking.

While parents may not hesitate to send their offspring to these same schools, some in the city’s northeast corner may be uncomfortable with the idea of homeless adults and families seeking shelter in close proximity. Such appears to be the point of a GoFundMe campaign that was launched late last week called “Safe Embarcadero for All.” Its objective: to raise $100,000 for legal counsel to push against the creation of a shelter along the city’s eastern waterfront region.

The campaign is a reaction to an idea introduced earlier this month by San Francisco Mayor London Breed to turn a parking lot along Embarcadero that’s owned by the Port of San Francisco into a center that would provide health and housing services and round-the-clock stays for up to 200 of the city’s homeless residents.

It isn’t just theoretical. If the Port Commission agrees to the plan, Breed estimated the center could be open by summer. Thus the GoFundMe campaign, which has now raised $71,250 as of this writing from 180 people, some of whom presumably live in the luxury high-rise apartments nearby and others who share the  campaign organizers’ concerns that the shelter could introduce “public safety, drug use, and other problems.”

It’s a frustrating state of affairs, though some are finding inspiration in a new, rival campaign that was created yesterday in support of the center and which is fast gaining financial support. Called a “SAFER Embarcadero for ALL,” it has already raised more than earlier GoFundMe campaign, with more than 1,021 donors  contributing more than $76,000 as of this writing, including Twilio CEO Jeff Lawson and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, who has been a frequent and public supporter of Breed and a number of her initiatives.

Lawson appears to have given $20,000; Benioff has given at least $10,000 to the campaign and is using Twitter as a platform to drum up more support.

Join me in supporting @TheCoalitionSF and @fbach4 and @LondonBreed in building a new navigation center in San Francisco on the Embarcadero. Homelessness is our number crisis and it requires all of our attention and resources. https://t.co/hY6KxeT5D9

— Marc Benioff (@Benioff) March 29, 2019

Some are heralding their involvement as proof that tech CEOs do care about San Francisco’s homeless population, which they’re often accused of exacerbating by planting themselves in the city, paying their employees high wages, and driving up the cost of everything from rent to groceries in the process.

Even GoFundMe itself has joined sides, donating $5,000 to the new campaign in support of the homeless center or, more specifically the Coalition on Homelessness, which has been promised the monies.

“I don’t think the tech industry is doing enough about the homeless issue,” GoFundMe CEO Rob Solomon told the San Francisco Chronicle this morning. “We wanted to do our small part, even though we’re not located in San Francisco.”

No doubt critics will argue that because GoFundMe is 25 miles south of San Francisco, in Redwood City, the company has less at stake.

Still, proponents of the center will take support wherever they can find it.

As Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness, told the Chronicle earlier today, the group is already planning to use the new funds to help with public education, to get input on the center, and to educate residents about what they grossly misunderstand about the city’s homeless population.

Lyft investors are banking on self-driving cars, not ride-sharing

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Lyft became the first ride-hailing app to go public on Friday, skyrocketing to a $23.4 billion valuation.

But don’t get too excited for drivers. Investments in Uber and Lyft are basically big bets on future products like autonomous vehicles, not the people behind the wheel. 

As we’ve seen, Lyft isn’t profitable. Last year it lost nearly $1 billion. So it’s not Lyft’s cash flow bringing in investors — it’s the company’s growth and the potential of its platform. 

“Wall Street is infamous for caring more about growth than profits,” said Investing.com senior analyst Clement Thibault in an email. “Lyft is likely to get a pass on profitability if it can manage to continue its impressive growth streak.” Read more…

More about Ipo, Lyft, Ride Hailing Apps, Autonomous Vehicles, and Tech

Toast, the restaurant management platform, has raised $250M at a $2.7B valuation

Restaurant sales hit $825 billion last year in the U.S., but with margins averaging at only three to five percent per business, they’re always looking for an edge on efficiency and just generally running things in a smarter way. A startup called Toast, which has built a popular platform for restaurant management, has closed a hefty round of funding to double down on that opportunity to do that.

The company has raised $250 million on a valuation of $2.7 billion, money that it will use to invest in building technology to help restaurants with marketing, recruitment and operational efficiency, as well as start to think about expanding to more territories outside the U.S.

The basics of the funding were flagged earlier today by Prime Unicorn Index and we reached out to the company to confirm. It is being led by TCV and Tiger Global Management, with participation from Bessemer Venture Partners and T. Rowe Price Associates funds and other existing investors.

This Series E is a big bump up for the company: in its previous round in July 2018, the company was valued at $1.4 billion — partly the result of strong growth at the company. While it’s not disclosing revenue numbers or whether it is yet profitable, Toast currently serves tens of thousands of businesses — covering a range of sizes from independent venues to smaller chains — and in the last year tallied up transactions in the tens of billions of dollars, seeing growth of some 148 percent in its revenues, according to CFO Tim Barash.

The restaurant business represents a big opportunity for e-commerce companies, but there have been some notable stumbles where ambitions have not been met with success. Groupon, which spent several years acquiring and organically building a point of sale and restaurant management business, first drastically cut down and then finally called it quits and sold off its efforts, called Breadcrumb, in 2016. Amazon also pulled out of point of sale services (aimed at more than restaurants) and has in certain regions also pulled back on other restaurant efforts like its order management and delivery platform.

Barash said in an interview that he thinks the key to why Toast has steadily grown its business through all that is because a large proportion of its own employees — some 70 percent — have worked in the food service industry themselves.

“I was first a busboy, and then I worked in pizza delivery for years,” he said. “Seventy percent of our employees have worked at restaurants, including those in our product leadership, and that helps us understand the problem.”

Restaurants, as Barash points out, are complicated. “They are essentially manufacturers and retailers at the same time, all in one small physical footprint,” and so the key to building products for them is to understand that and the challenges they face in building and running those businesses.

And that’s before you consider the many other factors that can make restaurants a dicey game, from changing cuisine tastes, to changing eating habits — many get food delivered today — to the precariousness of the commercial real estate market and so much more.

The aim of Toast is to build tools to apply data science and orderly IT processes to address whichever of those variables that can be controlled by the restaurant.

Today, Toast’s products include point of sale services as well as reporting and analytics; display systems for kitchens; online ordering and delivery interfaces; and loyalty programs. It also builds its own hardware, which includes handheld order pads, payment and ordering terminals, self-service kiosks and displays for guests. It also offers links through to a network of some 100 partners, such as Grubhub for takeout food, when a restaurant does not cover those services or functions directly, to help stitch together services to work on its platform.

Tomorrow, the plan is to use the funding to enhance all of those with more advanced features that speak to some of the bigger issues and concerns Barash said its customers are voicing today.

That will include better and more services aimed at guest engagement and retention; better ways to recruit and keep people in an industry that has a high turnover of employees; and of course more tools to address how efficiently a business is operating to make it more profitable. The company has committed some $1 billion in the next five years to R&D to build more hardware and software.

Having access to this kind of tech and platform is a big deal, especially for independently owned places that hope to compete against bigger chains without having to compromise on their core competency: making unique and delicious food.

In the meantime, Barash said that while Toast itself is no stranger to approaches from larger players itself — he declined to say who but said many who have ambitions to do more business with the restaurant industry had approached it over the years — the company’s long-term vision is to grow bigger and remain its own boss.

It’s an ambition that has hit the spot with investors that have an appetite for high-growth businesses.

“At TCV, we invest in companies that have the potential to reshape entire industries. By providing restaurants of all sizes with access to innovative technology, Toast is leveling the playing field and leading the industry’s transition to the cloud,” said David Yuan, general partner at TCV, in a statement, who is joining the board with this round. “Our investment will enable Toast to extend their platform beyond point-of-sale and guest-facing technology, and in doing so, create a powerful SaaS platform with a superlative business model. We’re excited to partner with Toast as they accelerate the growth of the community they serve.”

11 Surprising Reasons Why You Can’t Sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep is critical to your mental and physical well-being. Few things are more frustrating than when you lay down, and you simply can’t go to sleep. We’re going outline several common but surprising reasons why you can’t sleep below.

You Have Blue-Light Insomnia

Experts (and maybe even your family) has repeated time and time again to turn off the electronics before you go to bed. If you don’t, you could fall victim to blue-light insomnia. Your electronic devices emit a blue light when you turn them on, and this could suppress your natural melatonin production. The bad news is, this can delay it even if you turn off your device three hours before bed. You can negate this by buying a pair of glasses that come specially designed to block blue light.

See Also: Preventing Blue Light-Related Health Problems

You Have an Old Mattress

old mattress

Ideally, you should consider replacing your mattress every 10 or 15 years at the maximum. Not having a comfortable mattress can make it difficult for you to get comfortable enough to drift off to sleep. This is often a silent culprit as we get so used to our old lumpy beds.
With the sheer variety of mattresses available to buy, you can pick out a mattress that is firm or soft enough to suit your needs. This can help you fall asleep quickly, not toss and turn, and wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day.

See Also: 3 Negative Effects of Bad Mattresses You Need To Be Aware Of

You Had a Drink (or Two) Before Bed

Unfortunately for people who like to have a drink or two before bed, alcohol can induce insomnia and make it difficult for you to stay asleep. Alcohol can cause a rebound effect and result in a more fragmented and lighter sleeping pattern. You’ll want to limit your alcohol intake and stop drinking around three hours before you go to bed.

You Take Prescription Medications

Do you take diuretics for your blood pressure? If so, they can make you have to get up and go to the bathroom more during the night. If you take antidepressants, they can give you a boost of energy that keeps you up hours past your bedtime. Schedule a visit with your doctor and ask them for the best times to take your prescriptions. Make sure that these times don’t interfere with your sleep schedule.

You Routinely Take Naps

It’s natural for your energy levels to fall between two and three in the afternoon. This is when you experience the afternoon slump where all you want to do is nap. If you give in to the temptation and take a short nap, this can throw your sleep schedule off. If this sounds like you, try to schedule a little physical activity from two and three. Not only will you feel more energized, but it’ll wear you out for bedtime.

You Unknowingly Had Caffeine

food with caffeine

When you think of caffeine, coffee or soda are usually the two main things that come to mind. However, caffeine is in a lot of everyday foods and beverages that people don’t even realize. For example, chocolate and iced tea contain levels of caffeine. If you think this is why you can’t fall asleep, try cutting it out after you eat your lunch.

You’re Going Through Menopause

Menopause can wreak havoc on your entire body, and it can cause mental and physical problems. Nearly a quarter of women who are menopausal experience hot flashes. Waking up hot and sweaty is an unpleasant experience for anyone, and it can be hard to go back to sleep. Although it may not be feasible to stop your hot flashes, you can use a buckwheat pillow and sheets that wick moisture away.

You Have Poor Sleep Habits

Poor sleep habits can make it difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake up feeling happy and refreshed. Maybe you don’t have a set bedtime, or you prefer nights to mornings. You can improve your sleep habits by setting a bedtime and sticking to it, cutting caffeine out in the early afternoon, wearing blue light glasses at night, and giving yourself some quiet time before bed to unwind.

You Sleep In On The Weekends

Yes, sleeping in on Saturdays and Sundays can feel amazing when you do it. However, it can throw your biological rhythm off. This can make it challenging to fall asleep Sunday night, and you can ruin your sleep schedule for the entire week. Instead of sleeping in, set your alarm for around the same time that you normally get up. You might hit the snooze button a few times, but you’ll feel better come Monday morning.

You Sleep With Your Pets

sleep with pets

Lots of people like to have their pets in their beds when they go to sleep. However, this can cause problems if you have an allergy or sensitivity to pet dander. Also, animals tend to be more active and move around during the night. If they’re in bed with you, they could disturb your sleep every time they move.

Your Pillow Gets Too Hot

Sleeping on a cool pillow can actually work to lower your core body temperature. As your body temperature drops, you’ll start to feel groggy. This can help you fall asleep much faster than you traditionally would, and you may even stay asleep longer. You can get a special cooling pillow or add an ice pack to your pillow.

The post 11 Surprising Reasons Why You Can’t Sleep appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Tencent-backed news app Qutoutiao nabs $171M from Alibaba

The race to give Chinese users their daily dose of news intensifies as Qutoutiao, a rival to TikTok parent Bytedance, net an installment of sizable backing.

Alibaba is injecting $171 million in a convertible loan to Qutoutiao, the three-year-old news and video aggregation startup, according to an announcement released Thursday. The transaction will convert into about 11.4 million shares of Qutoutiao at a price of $15 per American depositary shares, representing about 4 percent of Qutoutiao. The deal arrived just six months after Qutoutiao raised $84 million in a downsized initial public offering through Nasdaq.

TechCrunch has reached out Qutoutiao for more details on its new funding and will update the story if we hear back.

Qutoutiao, which means “Fun headlines” in Chinese, runs a news app that feeds users content based on their past habit and an e-book reading app for those with a longer attention span. The Shanghai-based company is among a handful of startups alongside ecommerce challenger Pinduoduo that are piling into the largely untapped, smaller cities outside China’s major urban centers of Beijing and Shanghai for growth.

The fresh capital will make Qutoutiao one of the unusual Chinese tech startups with backings from both Alibaba and Tencent, the arch-foes that compete in many realms. The other companies that have enjoyed fundings from both heavyweights include car-hailing service Didi Chuxing and youth-focused media company Bilibili.

Alibaba’s support is also a significant boost for Qutoutiao as it fights a relentless battle with Bytedance, a growing threat to China’s tech veterans. Unlike most of China’s emerging startups, Bytedance has not taken fundings from Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent, collectively known as the “BAT” to acknowledge their dominance in the Chinese internet.

Bytedance has had a history of hostility with social media leader Tencent while it has been more pally with Alibaba the e-commerce giant, which agreed to facilitate ecommerce sales for Bytedance influencers.

Bytedance runs an empire of popular new media products that include short-form video app Douyin and news distribution platform Jinri Toutiao. TikTok, which is the international version of Douyin, is turning heads across the globe including in the United States and has reportedly spurred a Facebook clone.

Battling in the relentless Chinese market has come at huge costs for Qutoutiao, which sees itself spending heavily on marketing to collect and retain users. While its 2018 revenues jumped 484 percent to $440 million, net loss soared to $283 million in the year compared to just $14.3 million in the previous period. But the startup is ready to spend more as it works on a new app that could take on Douyin in China’s blossoming short-form video market.

Hong Kong-based fintech startup Qupital raises $15M Series A to expand in mainland China

Qupital, a fintech startup that bills itself as Hong Kong’s largest trade financing platform for SMEs, has closed a $15 million Series A led by CreditEase FinTech Investment Fund (CEFIF), with participation from returning investors Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund and MindWorks Ventures, both participants in its seed round. To date, Qupital has raised $17 million, including a seed round two years ago, and will use its latest funding to expand its supply chain financing products, launch in mainland Chinese cities and hire more people for its tech development and risk management teams.

CreditEase, which provides loans and other financial services for SMEs in China, will act as a strategic investor, aiding with Qupital’s geographic expansion. Existing investor Alibaba has already helped Qupital reach small businesses on its platform. Qupital will open branches in Chinese cities including Shanghai, Hangzhou, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, along with setting up a new technology center in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area for talent and tech development. In total, it will hire about 100 people for its Hong Kong office this year.

Founded in 2016, Qupital offers lending for SMEs that frequently have cash flow issues because they are in a cycle of waiting for invoices to be paid. Qupital’s loans cover most of the value of an invoice, then matches that with investors and funders who cover the cash with the expectation of a return. The company makes money by charging SMEs a service fee that is a fixed percentage of the total invoice value and then a discount fee, and taking a percentage of net gains made by investors.

Qupital has now processed 8,000 trades, totaling HKD $2 billion in value. It won’t disclose how many SMEs it has worked with, but co-founder and chairman Andy Chan says that number is in the hundreds.

Chan tells TechCrunch that in China, Qupital will not compete directly against traditional financial institutions, because it focuses on financing the Hong Kong business entities of Chinese companies in U.S. and Hong Kong currency, instead of onshore renminbi. It will also target SMEs underserved by traditional lenders, by using alternative data sources to determine their creditworthiness.

In a prepared statement, CEFIF managing director Dennis Cong said “The growing volume of SME and cross-border trading drives a huge demand for alternative financing for SME’s who are underserved in the market and opportunities for investors to earn a decent risk-adjusted return. We look forward to working with Qupital to broaden its source of capital base and create unparalleled investment opportunities for CreditEase.”

Stephen Colbert calls the Mueller report conclusion ‘worse than the finale of ‘Lost”

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It was a lengthy, almost two-year wait for the Mueller report to be delivered, and Stephen Colbert thought it was, well, anticlimactic.

In a monologue opening The Late Show on Monday, Colbert said the report’s findings, which found that there was no proof of collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia, was “worse than the finale of Lost.”

“What about the smoke monster, was it real or not? And if not, why have so many members of Trump’s campaign plead guilty to lying about meeting with the smoke monster?” Colbert quipped.

“Why couldn’t this have been like the ending of Seinfeld? Still disappointing, but at least they’re all in jail.” Read more…

More about Entertainment, Politics, Stephen Colbert, The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, and Mueller Investigation

Apple TV+ makes Facebook Watch look like a joke

Apple flexed its wallet today in a way Facebook has been scared to do. Tech giants make money by the billions, not the millions, which should give them an easy way to break into premium video distribution: buy some must-see content. That’s the strategy I’ve been advocating for Facebook but that Apple actually took to heart. Tim Cook wrote lines of zeros on some checks, and suddenly Steven Spielberg, JJ Abrams, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, and Oprah became the well-known faces of Apple TV+.

Facebook Watch has…MTV’s The Real World? The other Olsen sister? Re-runs of Buffy The Vampire Slayer? Actually, Facebook Watch is dominated by the kind of low-quality viral video memes the social network announced it would kick out of its News Feed for wasting people’s time.

And so while Apple TV+ at least has a solid base camp from which to make the uphill climb to compete with Netflix, Facebook Watch feels like it’s tripping over its own feet.

Today, Apple gave a preview of its new video subscription service that will launch in fall offering unlimited access to old favorites and new exclusives for a monthly fee. Yet even without any screenshots or pricing info, Apple still got people excited by dangling its big-name content.

Spielberg is making short films out of the Amazing Stories anthology that inspired him as a child. Abrams is spinning a tale of a musician’s rise called Little Voice Witherspoon and Aniston star in The Morning Show about anchoring a news program. Oprah is bringing documentaries about workplace harassment and mental health. Apple even has the Seasame Street gang teaching kids how to code.

This tentpole tactic will see Apple try to draw users into a free trial of Apple TV+ with this must-see content and then convince them to stay. And a compelling, exclusive reason to watch is exactly what’s been missing from…Facebook Watch. Instead, it chose to fund a wide array of often unscripted reality and documentary shorts that never felt special or any better than what else was openly available on the Internet, let alone what you could get from a subscription. It now claims to have 75 million people Watching at least one minute per day, but it’s failed to spawn a zeitgeist moment. Even as Facebook has scrambled to add syndicated TV cult favorites like Firefly or soccer matches to free, ad-supported video service, it’s failed to sign on anything truly newsworthy.

That’s just not going to fly anymore. Tech has evolved past the days when media products could win just based on their design, theoretical virality, or the massive audiences they’re cross-promoted to. We’re anything but starved for things to watch or listen to. And if you want us to frequent one more app or sign up for one more subscription, you’ll need A-List talent that makes us take notice. Netflix has Stranger Things. HBO has Game Of Thrones. Amazon has the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Disney+ has…Marvel, Star Wars, and the princesses. And now Apple has the world’s top directors and actresses.

Video has become a battle of the rich. Apple didn’t pull any punches. Facebook will need to buy some new fighters if Watch is ever going to deserve a place in the ring.

How To Convince Your Boss To Let You Work Remotely

You’re a 9-to-5 desk jockey chained to your cube.

The ambient chatter of your co-workers has burned into your earholes.

The worst part?

You can do your job from anywhere and be more productive.

Instead, you have to wake up at 6 am. It feels akin to crossing the Sahara desert with no camel.

Take heart and put your party pants on because you’re about to start working from a hammock and enjoy the blue sky.

Here’s what you can do when asking your boss to work from home.

Make Sure You’re a Top Performer

top performer

A whopping 56% of jobs in the US are compatible with remote work.

Yours might be one of them. But before you ask your boss to work remotely, your performance needs to be topnotch.

Chances are, your boss’ management style—we’ll call her Nicole—is based on Andrew Grove’s Task Relevant Maturity (TRM) concept.

I know, the name does not roll off the tongue but the idea behind it makes perfect sense.

Nicole is either hands-off or on depending on your performance:

If you do the job like Elon Musk, you can gallivant all around the globe. But if you’re more like Frodo with his arm broken, you’d better stick to the office like glue.

How do you know if you’re a top performer?

Your recent performance reviews shine green and your boss regularly takes his hat off to your achievements. Your work is in concert with peers.

All boxes ticked?

Crack on.

Decide What You Bring To The Table

You want to work from home in your pajamas but you need a better excuse. Your boss needs to know what’s in it for her.

So, come up with a list of perks Nicole will get when you’re away.

Here are a few examples if you’re a writer:

  • I’ll be able to output more articles a week for the company blog because of fewer distractions.
  • I will be able to start work earlier because I can avoid the commute.
  • I’ll be fully available in Slack and Skype whenever the team needs me and I can come to the office anytime.

Once you can show Nicole you’re better off working remotely, you’ll enter the digital nomad lifestyle with no hassle.

Have the Conversation

convince the boss

You’re killing it in your job and you can take your efficiency to the next level if you work remotely.

Now, it’s game time.

Shoot an email to Nicole. It’ll give her time to reflect on your request.

Here’s what you can write:

Spotlight your successes

Example: My last performance reviews were positive and I feel I’m doing a pretty good job. Two of my latest articles are ranking number one in SERP and they both have been shared by 100+ users.

Emphasize the benefit for the company

Example: If I could work from home, I’d be able to produce more articles because I’ll have far fewer distractions than I do in the office. On top of that, I could start my day at 8 AM because I won’t have to commute.

Address potential concerns

Example: Even though I won’t be physically present in the office, I’ll be available via Slack and Skype. If you want me to attend a meeting, I can come to the office anytime during the day.

Pro tip: If a home office is uncommon in your company/team, ask for small trial runs. If things work out, you’ll be able to up your remote days.

Once you prove you’d better off working from home, consider your request approved.

See Also: 8 Ways To Set Up An Awesome Home Office

What Do You Think?

How would you approach the talk with the boss?

Let me know in the comments. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

The post How To Convince Your Boss To Let You Work Remotely appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Miley Cyrus celebrates ‘Hannah Montana’ anniversary with cute throwback photo

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It’s been 13 years since the first episode of Hannah Montana landed on the Disney Channel, and Miley Cyrus has marked the occasion with a sweet Twitter tribute.

The 26-year-old pop icon shared a photograph of her younger self, with a caption noting the significant date for the beloved series. 

“It’s the 13th anniversary of the first HM episode to air,” she wrote. The pilot episode of Hannah Montana, titled “Lilly, Do You Want to Know a Secret?” premiered on March 24, 2006.

According to Billboard, the image shows Cyrus at the Nashville airport, ready to fly to Los Angeles to the Hannah Montana set. So, she did hop off the plane at LAX, but we see no cardigan. Read more…

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Alibaba acquires Israeli VR startup Infinity Augmented Reality

Infinity Augmented Reality, an Israeli virtual reality startup, has been acquired by Alibaba, the companies announced this weekend. The deal’s terms were not disclosed. Alibaba and InfinityAR have had a strategic partnership since 2016, when Alibaba Group led InfinityAR’s Series C. Since then, the two have collaborated on augmented reality, computer vision and artificial intelligence projects.

Founded in 2013, the startup’s augmented glasses platform enables developers in a wide range of industries (retail, gaming, medical, etc.) to integrate AR into their apps. InfinityAR’s products include software for ODMs and OEMs and a SDK plug-in for 3D engines.

Alibaba’s foray into virtual reality started three years ago, when it invested in Magic Leap and then announced a new research lab in China to develop ways of incorporating virtual reality into its e-commerce platform.

InfinityAR’s research and development team will begin working out of Alibaba’s Israel Machine Laboratory, part of Alibaba DAMO Academy, the R&D initiative it is pouring $15 billion into with the goal of eventually serving two billion customers and creating 100 million jobs by 2036. DAMO Academy collaborates with universities around the world and Alibaba’s Israel Machine Laboratory has a partnership with Tel Aviv University focused on video analysis and machine learning.

In a press statement, the laboratory’s head, Lihi Zelnik-Manor, said “Alibaba is delighted to be working with InfinityAR as one team after three years of partnership. The talented team brings unique knowhow in sensor fusion, computer vision and navigation technologies. We look forward to exploring these leading technologies and offering additional benefits to customers, partners and developers.”

Hackers conquer Tesla’s in-car web browser and win a Model 3

A pair of security researchers dominated Pwn2Own, the annual high-profile hacking contest, taking home $375,000 in prizes including a Tesla Model 3 — their reward for successfully exposing a vulnerability in the electric vehicle’s infotainment system.

Tesla handed over its new Model 3 sedan to Pwn2Own this year, the first time a car has been included in the competition. Pwn2Own is in its 12th year and run by Trend Micro’s Zero Day Initiative. ZDI has awarded more than $4 million over the lifetime of the program.

The pair of hackers Richard Zhu and Amat Cam, known as team Fluoroacetate, “thrilled the assembled crowd” as they entered the vehicle, according to ZDI, which noted that after a few minutes of setup, they successfully demonstrated their research on the Model 3 internet browser.

The pair used a JIT bug in the renderer to display their message — and won the prize, which included the car itself. In the most simple terms, a JIT, or just-in-time bug, bypasses memory randomization data that normally would keep secrets protected.

Tesla told TechCrunch it will release a software update to fix the vulnerability discovered by the hackers.

“We entered Model 3 into the world-renowned Pwn2Own competition in order to engage with the most talented members of the security research community, with the goal of soliciting this exact type of feedback. During the competition, researchers demonstrated a vulnerability against the in-car web browser,” Tesla said in an emailed statement. “There are several layers of security within our cars which worked as designed and successfully contained the demonstration to just the browser, while protecting all other vehicle functionality. In the coming days, we will release a software update that addresses this research. We understand that this demonstration took an extraordinary amount of effort and skill, and we thank these researchers for their work to help us continue to ensure our cars are the most secure on the road today.”

That’s a wrap! Congrats to @fluoroacetate on winning Master of Pwn. There total was $375,000 (plus a vehicle) for the week. Superb work from this great duo. pic.twitter.com/Q7Fd7vuEoJ

— Zero Day Initiative (@thezdi) March 22, 2019

Pwn2Own’s spring vulnerability research competition, Pwn2Own Vancouver, was held March 20 to 22 and  featured five categories, including web browsers, virtualization software, enterprise applications, server-side software and the new automotive category.

Pwn2Own awarded a total of $545,000 for 19 unique bugs in Apple Safari, Microsoft Edge and Windows, VMware Workstation, Mozilla Firefox, and Tesla.

Tesla has had a public relationship with the hacker community since 2014 when the company launched its first bug bounty program. And it’s grown and evolved ever since.

Last year, the company increased the maximum reward payment from $10,000 to $15,000 and added its energy products as well. Today, Tesla’s vehicles and all directly hosted servers, services and applications are now in scope in its bounty program

‘Shazam!’ is a superhero movie for kids, and that’s a great thing

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It’s been a long time since superheroes could be dismissed as mere kid stuff, thanks to stories as intelligent as Black Panther or as disturbing as The Dark Knight or as gleefully inappropriate as Deadpool.

But lost in all the praise over how mature and thoughtful and boundary-pushing these films can be is the fact that, well, superheroes are kid stuff. Most of us first fell in love with these larger-than-life crusaders as children, over comic books or Saturday morning cartoons or family trips to the multiplex.

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