Month: February 2020

Oh my god, just wash your hands

Oh my god, just wash your hands

Please wash your damn hands. 

It’s 2020 and yes, full grown adults still need to hear it. 

Health officials in Washington confirmed the first death from the new coronavirus, officially named COVID-19, on Saturday. The virus is highly contagious, and as of Saturday, has infected 85,641 people worldwide and is responsible for 2,933 deaths. Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.

As panic around the virus rises, preventative supplies like face masks and hand sanitizer are becoming increasingly difficult to buy. They’re out of stock in most drugstores and big box stores like Walmart and Target. On Amazon, brands like Purell and Germ-X are only available through third party sellers at high mark-upsFrustrated shoppers on social media warned others of the hand sanitizer shortage, crowdsourcing lists of stores that still had an inventory.  Read more…

More about Hand Sanitizer, Coronavirus, Culture, and Web Culture

Why you can’t overlook the small details in the pursuit of innovation

This week, we read a very short story, The Great Silence, as we start to head toward the end of Ted Chiang’s Exhalation collection. This story asks questions about how we connect with nature, and also how to think about innovation and where new ideas come from.

We will finish the remaining two stories in the collection in the coming week, and then it will be time (sadly!) to change books. I’ll announce the next book in the book club hopefully shortly.

Some further quick notes:

  • Want to join the conversation? Feel free to email me your thoughts at bookclub@techcrunch.com (we got a real email address!) or join some of the discussions on Reddit or Twitter (hashtag TCBookClub)
  • Follow these informal book club articles here: https://techcrunch.com/book-review/. That page also has a built-in RSS feed for posts exclusively in the Book Review category, which is very low volume.
  • Feel free to add your comments in our TechCrunch comments section below this post.

Reading The Great Silence

This is a quite short story with a simple message. The narrator is a parrot discussing humanity’s quest to seek out artificial life elsewhere in the universe. The parrot, observing these actions, reflects on why humanity spends so much time looking for intelligence elsewhere, when it itself is intelligent, and located right next to us. The devastating line Chiang delivers comes toward the end:

But parrots are more similar to humans than any extraterrestrial species ever will be, and humans can observe us up close; they can look us in the eye. How do they expect to recognize an alien intelligence if all they can do is eavesdrop from a hundred light-years away?

The author offers us some obvious points to think about around environmental destruction and species extinction, and those are obvious enough that I think any reader can sort of surmise how the story connects to those issues.

So I want to instead connect this discussion to a theme dear to the heart of TechCrunch readers, and that is the quest for science and innovation.

To me, Chiang isn’t just criticizing our disdain for the animal species around us, but is also critiquing an innovation community that constantly strives for the big and “shiny” discoveries when so many smaller and local discoveries have yet to be made.

We invest billions of dollars into satellites and telescopes and radar arrays hoping to capture some fleeting glimpse into an alien world somewhere in the galaxy. And yet, there are deeply alien worlds all around us. It’s not just parrots — Earth is filled with species that are incredibly different from us in physiology, behavior, and group dynamics. What if the species most alien to our own in the whole galaxy is located right under our noses?

Of course, there would be huge headlines in finding even a single-celled organism on another planet (assuming there was even some way to detect such life in the first place). But that is precisely the type of narrow-minded, novelty-seeking behavior that Chiang is pointing out here.

Nonetheless, innovation can be a weird beast. It isn’t hard to look around the Valley these days and be dismayed at just how adrift a huge part of the industry is. We are creating more “smart” products than ever, yet huge social challenges and scientific frontiers remain completely unfunded. It’s easier to raise funding to start up an upgraded handbag company with a new brand and marketing strategy than it is to build an engineering team to push quantum computing forward.

There are certainly many valid arguments for moving our money to more “worthwhile” pursuits. Yet, fresh ideas that change industries can sometimes come from the oddest places, with even frivolous products occasionally creating fundamental advances in technology. Facebook as a social network might be a time sink for its users, but its huge scale also triggered all kinds of new data center infrastructure technologies that have been widely adopted by the rest of the tech industry. Solving a frivolous problem became the means to solving a problem of more depth.

In the end, you need to seek answers. Don’t overlook the obvious around us or get inured to the quotidian challenges that may just be the fount of innovation. Maybe figuring out the communication of parrots does nothing for us. Or maybe, exploring that area will open up whole new ideas for how to communicate and understand the neural patterns of speech. We can’t know until we tread along the path.

Now, to take one aside before we close out: Exhalation is a collection of previously-published short stories, but Chiang manages to work in his arch-symbol of breath and air into this piece in a fairly tight way:

It’s no coincidence that “aspiration” means both hope and the act of breathing.

When we speak, we use the breath in our lungs to give our thoughts a physical form. The sounds we make are simultaneously our intentions and our life force.

It’s a symbol we saw most substantively in Exhalation (the short story itself, not this whole collection) which we talked about a few posts ago. It’s a gorgeous little motif, and Chiang nicely embeds it to create an empathetic connection between humans and animals.

Some question about Omphalos

For the next and penultimate short story Omphalos, here are some questions to think about as you read the story.

  • What is the meaning of belief? How does belief influence both our views on our place in the world and our approaches to science and the scientific method?
  • Does existence and existentialism flow from external symbols or internal rationales?
  • How do religion and science mix? How did Chiang frame this narrative to make this question easier to contend with?
  • The story focuses on the dynamics of archaeology and astronomy — why these two disciplines and not some other field of science?
  • What’s the ultimate message of the story? Or is there more than one that can be read into the text?

GDC 2020 has been canceled

Well, after what I’m sure was a hectic few days for the folks planning the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, the team announced today that they have officially decided to cancel the event happening this March, saying in a blog post that they hoped they would be able to reschedule an event for “later in the summer.”

In recent days, nearly all of the event’s top corporate sponsors announced that they would not be sending employees to the event due to concerns surrounding coronavirus. Microsoft, Unity, Epic, Amazon, Facebook and Sony had all bowed out of the event. GDC’s statement did not reference the virus.

The company behind GDC detailed that they will be refunding conference and expo attendees in full, though a blog post details that the group hopes to host a GDC event later in the summer, noting, “We will be working with our partners to finalize the details and will share more information about our plans in the coming weeks.”

GDC is just the latest tech conference to be shuttered in the wake of worldwide concern surrounding the outbreak of coronavirus. Yesterday, Facebook announced it would be canceling the in-person component of its F8 conference and we have already seen the cancellation of GSMA‘s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Apple punishes facial recognition company Clearview AI for ignoring developer rules

Apple punishes facial recognition company Clearview AI for ignoring developer rules

Clearview AI’s week keeps getting worse. 

Apple has suspended the controversial facial recognition company’s iOS developer account following a report from Buzzfeed News that Clearview AI was in violation of Apple’s Enterprise Developer Program rules.

As a result, Apple has disabled Clearview AI’s iOS app, giving the company 14 days to respond to Apple’s claim. 

Specifically, Apple’s rules state that companies “may not use, distribute or otherwise make Your Internal Use Applications available to any third parties in any way.” 

Buzzfeed’s report found that Clearview AI was doing exactly that by “encouraging” its clients to download the iOS app in violation of that rule.  Read more…

More about Apple, Ios, Facial Recognition, Clearview Ai, and Tech

The Friday Buzz: What We Make for Lunch

Welcome to The Friday Buzz, our roundup of all good things, good advice, good feelings. It’s the happy hour of blog posts! Up this week: Easy Lunches! 

Friday is here, and for a lot of us that means we are planning our menus to get ready to go grocery shopping over the weekend. I’m pretty good about having breakfast foods on hand and planning out dinners, but I’m always on the hunt for quick and easy lunch ideas that take zero brainpower to make.

So, I thought I’d ask The Simply Team to share their go-to lunches, and here’s what they had to say!

OUR FAVE QUICK LUNCHES

  • It’s a Wrap! Andy’s go-to lunch is a chicken wrap made from a whole wheat tortilla, ranch dressing (he does a homemade non-dairy ranch, but you could do your own version), spinach, precooked chicken, and craisins.
  • Think Big! Emma loves to make big batches of something (anything, really!) that she can reheat throughout the week. Her two recent favorites are: Frittata made with chicken sausage and all the leftover vegetables from the weekend, and Beet and Barley Salad with a poached egg on top.
  • Oodles of Noodles: Summer likes to make our Thai Noodle Salad and eat it throughout the week. (It makes a lot!) She also likes sautéed peppers and onions with an egg on top.
  • Avo-Toast! Megan turns to avocado toast with an egg on top or some sort of egg scramble with a whole wheat tortilla.
  • Smash It! Cambria often smashes chickpeas on a piece of Ezekiel bread with some olive oil, salt, and pepper. Simple and delicious!

What are some of your go-to quick and easy lunches?

MEANWHILE ON INSTAGRAM

Our Orange Chicken is taking the Instagram world by storm, and it’s not hard to see why.

READER COMMENT OF THE WEEK

Man in the North left a comment that warmed our heart and souls on our Egg Drop Soup.

I followed the recipe, with a few substitutions that turned out great. My fiance is sick and when she tasted this soup, her whole day changed and lifted her spirits. We both agreed it’s the best egg drop soup we have ever had. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe, it meant more than you can imagine.

Watch out, Chicken Noodle Soup. Looks like I’ll be making Egg Drop Soup the next time I get sick!

Continue reading “The Friday Buzz: What We Make for Lunch” »

Proper Gym Etiquette: What You Should and Shouldn’t Do At the Gym

With spring break and the summer approaching, many people will be joining the gym. If you’re new to it, you may struggle with how to behave there. You may even fear getting judged.

To help you be more comfortable with working out, here’s a guide on proper gym etiquette.

Do: Bring a change of clothes and indoor shoes

gym etiquette

Everyone hates when others track dirt and mud into their home and they have to clean it up, right?

A pair of indoor shoes can help keep the gym floor, machines, and other exercise stations clean. While some gyms have full-time cleaning staff, many do not. And for those who don’t, their jobs will be easier if they do not have to follow you around to clean up your mess.

Some gyms are stricter than others about this rule. They may not let you get past the sign-in area without removing outdoor shoes.

Don’t: Forget to wipe down your station

Most gyms provide disinfectant sprays as well as disposable paper towels. I personally avoid gyms which mandate using a reusable towel or don’t provide a way to clean the equipment.

Typically, I will wipe down the equipment if I notice someone leave without doing so. Using them can help keep you and your other gym goers healthy, as well as avoid sitting in one another’s stink. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t sweat that much, or just sat in an area to rest, wipe it down.

Some people work out with towels, but your fellow gym goers can’t know how clean your towel is. One thing I see many people do is to sit on their sweat towel (or even worse, their hoodie) without disinfecting the station. Another is people using their towel to wipe the equipment with disinfectant.

Some microbiologists have said these habits greatly increase the spread of germs in gyms, increasing the risk of getting yourself or others sick. Your towel will carry fewer germs if you disinfect every station prior to putting it down.

Do: Re-rack your weights properly

gym etiquette dumbbells

When using plates and free weights, make sure to put them back where you found them. Some people don’t mind if you re-rack to one 45lb plates depending on the exercise and the gym, but the safe bet is to re-rack all weights.

You don’t want the next person to struggle in removing your weights. Some gyms have labeled areas for plates, dumbbells, and barbells. It is always best to put them in the designated area even if it is not where you found them. Sometimes, I sort weights while waiting for equipment or during a rest period.

Do not abandon your barbells in the middle of the walking area or stack plates into a tower. It is annoying and may lead to injury to yourself or others. Do not mix weights when putting them away. No one wants to have to de-rack and immediately re-rack two 25lb plates to get to a 45lb plate.

Do: Be aware of your surroundings

Be respectful of the personal space of your fellow gym-goers. You don’t want someone to drop a dumbbell on your foot! Be aware of what others are doing. You wouldn’t want to trip over someone stretching or knock out others.

Personal space at the gym is important. Most people don’t like a stranger taking a phone call an inch from their face, let alone when they’re trying to deadlift.

Do not block others’ access to weights, mirrors or gym equipment. For example, moving away from the barbell rack before doing a barbell set will allow others access to the weights without having to wait for you to finish your set or move. Even if it’s crowded, try your best to not stand in between another person and a mirror. You may block their view of their form.

You can do yoga or biceps curls in a different area of the gym. Many gyms have free exercise areas for yoga and stretching so don’t do them in squat or dead-lift areas. Those exercises can only be done in a limited part of the gym.

Don’t: Hog the exercise equipment

Some gyms have strict rules on how long someone can use an area or exercise equipment. Others rely on an honor system.

It may be tempting to make a circuit for your personal use but remember that other people may want to use the equipment as well. Don’t kill your gains to socialize. Although most people at the gym are friendly, you have to remember that they are there to work out.

It’s not a big deal to have a conversation or check your music in your rest period. However, you need to try to avoid spending an hour talking and fifteen minutes exercising. Be aware of your noise level and listen to your music with headphones. If half the gym is looking at you during a conversation, it might be time to quiet down and observe proper gym etiquette.

See Also: 12 Ways To Effectively Waste Time At The Gym

The post Proper Gym Etiquette: What You Should and Shouldn’t Do At the Gym appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Lady Gaga’s ‘Stupid Love’ video is a joyous alien desert rave epic shot on iPhone 11

Lady Gaga's 'Stupid Love' video is a joyous alien desert rave epic shot on iPhone 11

In a galaxy far, far away from the shallow, there is finally a new Lady Gaga single that has nothing to do with Bradley Cooper. 

The clip for ‘Stupid Love’, a regulation rah-rah-mode Gaga banger with arpeggiated synths for days, was reportedly filmed on an iPhone 11, with the Lady herself repeatedly tagging #ShotOniPhone as she teased the simultaenous drop of both track and vision.

Watch Gaga and her “Kindness Punks” battle it out with some help from a lot of brightly coloured latex, chains, and joyous, surprisingly accessible choreography you could totally learn in the space of an evening. But a lot of it is just the kind of loose, instinctive jumping and flailing you’re going to be doing to it on dancefloors for the next year.  Read more…

More about Lady Gaga, Shot On Iphone, Entertainment, and Music

AWS partners with Kenya’s Safaricom on cloud and consulting services

Amazon Web Services has entered a partnership with Safaricom — Kenya’s largest telco, ISP and mobile payment provider — in a collaboration that could spell competition between American cloud providers in Africa.

In a statement to TechCrunch, the East African company framed the arrangement as a “strategic agreement” whereby Safaricom will sell AWS services (primarily cloud) to its East Africa customer network.

Safaricom — whose products include the famed M-Pesa mobile money product — will also become the first Advanced Consulting Partner for the AWS partner network in East Africa.

“The APN is…the program for technology…businesses who leverage AWS to build solutions and services for customers…and sell their AWS offerings by providing valuable business, technical, and marketing support,” Safaricom said.

“We chose to partner with AWS because it offers customers the broadest and deepest cloud platform…This agreement will allow us to accelerate our efforts to enable digital transformation in Kenya,” said Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph.

“Safaricom will be able to offer AWS services to East-African customers, allowing businesses of all sizes to quickly get started on AWS cloud,” the company statement continued.

For now, the information provided by Safaricom is a bit sparse on the why and how of the partnership between the American company and East African mobile, financial and ISP provider.

TechCrunch has an inquiry into Amazon and some additional questions posed to Safaricom, toward additional coverage.

An initial what-this-all-means take on the partnership points to an emerging competition between American cloud service providers to scale in Africa by leveraging networks of local partners.

The most obvious rival to the AWS-Safaricom strategic agreement is the Microsoft -Liquid Telecom collaboration. Since 2017, MS has partnered with the Southern African digital infrastructure company to grow Microsoft’s AWS competitor product — Azure — and offer cloud services to the continent’s startups and established businesses.

MS and Liquid Telecom have focused heavily on the continent’s young tech companies. “We believe startups will be key employers in Africa’s future economy. They’re also our future customers,” Liquid Telecom’s  Head of Innovation Partnerships Oswald Jumira told TechCrunch in 2018.

Amazon hasn’t gone fully live yet with e-commerce services in Africa, but it has aggressively positioned AWS and built a regional client list that includes startups — such as fintech venture Jumo — and large organizations, such Absa and Standard Bank.

Partnering with Safaricom plugs AWS into the network of one East Africa’s most prominent digital companies.

Safaricom, led primarily by its M-Pesa mobile money product, holds remarkable dominance in Kenya, Africa’s 6th largest economy. M-Pesa has 20.5 million customers across a network of 176,000 agents and generates around one-fourth ($531 million) of Safaricom’s ≈ $2.2 billion annual revenues (2018).

Compared to other players — such as Airtel  Money and Equitel Money — M-Pesa has 80% of Kenya’s mobile money agent network, 82% of the country’s active mobile-money subscribers and transfers 80% of Kenya’s mobile-money transactions, per the latest sector statistics.

A number of Safaricom’s clients (including those it provides payments and internet services to) are companies, SMEs and startups.

Extending AWS services to them will play out next to the building of Microsoft’s $100 million Africa Development Center, with an office in Nairobi, announced last year.

Dating Mistakes To Avoid for Happy Relationships!

Falling in love with someone is a wonderful feeling that can only be topped by the feeling when that love is mutual. Starting a new relationship is extremely exciting! However, even with such an unpredictable matter as love is, there are still some rules to follow.

After all, dating is one of the most powerful forms of human communication. Hence, in order to make it fruitful and happy, you need to understand the basics of human relationships. Here are some of mistakes to avoid for happy relationships.

Making your partner the center of your universe

mistakes in relationships

The first thing on this list of dating mistakes people should avoid in order to secure a happy and long-lasting relationship may appear to be a little bit strange to some. One of the arguments against this point is that when you are genuinely in love with a person, you want to invest all of yourself into the relationship. You want to become “the one” so you put all your time and effort into making that relationship work.

However, this is not how healthy and happy relationships work. Of course, if you are going
out with someone it is essential that you pay enough attention to them, as well as their needs and wants. Nonetheless, it does not mean that they have to replace every single other human being and relationship you’ve had in your life before you met them.

Abandoning your social circle for someone is toxic and incredibly detrimental for you. The reason for this is that by focusing too much on your lover, you will lose those bits of character that other people fostered in you. It is likely that by only ever hanging out with your significant other, you will adopt their personality features and become a version of them. While this is cute to some, in reality, this is not great at all. It can even lead to a potential break-up.

The best way to explain the correlation between starting to resemble your lover and them
losing interest in you is this:

When the two of you meet and start to get to know each other better, each of you are a person of your own. And they fall for that person! If you eventually lose all of your unique traits and turn into their mirror reflection, they will be less intrigued by your existence.

In addition to that, it is incorrect to put your significant other’s needs above your own.
While it is an important feature of a happy relationship to know how to compromise, you should not forget about your own comfort when dating someone. Do not cancel plans you have made with someone and really wanted to attend to just at your partner’s whim.

It is understandable that after going out for a while people merge their social circles. They
introduce each other to their friends and mix and match the friendship groups. This is absolutely normal. The same way paying some little extra attention to your partner and choosing them before other people is normal.

You just need to remember not to limit yourself to just that one person by crossing out everyone else out of your life and abandoning your hobbies or goals that make your life a bit happier and fulfilling.

See Also: 6 Essential Steps For Overcoming Codependency

Trying to avoid arguments by bottling up your emotions and feelings

Another big mistake a lot of couples make that hinders them from having a happy and healthy relationship is avoiding arguments.

As weird as it may sound, the idea of arguments being unacceptable in a happy relationship is completely wrong. The truth is, arguments can be incredibly useful and healthy, and even take your relationship to the next level!

In fact, it is much better for your couple dynamics if both of you voice all of your concerns and talk them out, even if that could potentially lead to a heated conversation. If you discuss everything that bothers you at the time and let your partner know about your view of the situation, they are more likely to offer an explanation of their actions and subsequently suggest and alternative model of behaviour that would satisfy you both. After all, your lover is likely not a psychic and cannot possibly know how you feel about certain things unless you explicitly tell them.

Alternatively, if you choose not to express your disagreement and dissatisfaction simply because you would much rather swallow that instead of spending a couple of hours working out the problem, you are in for a hugely delayed scandal. It is human nature to accumulate all the unresolved conflicts and bottle up feelings instead of truly letting them go. Unfortunately, there is a limit to this.

Eventually, there will a be a thing, and often the tiniest one, which will push you over the edge and make you burst. Naturally, this will have adverse effect on your relationship and will likely end in a couple of days of not talking to each other.

Ignoring red flags

relationship red flags mistakes

Despite there not being a definite timeline for dating mistakes, this mistake is more relevant to those relationships that are still early, where people are still getting to know each other.

When you are only starting dating someone and still get butterflies in your stomach just from thinking about them, it is usual to idealize them in your head. Obviously, you are still new to this person and cannot possibly know about all their annoying little habits that are only identifiable to the people they live with. To you, they appear to be perfect. And this is, indeed, a wonderful feeling! However, this is exactly where the risk of ignoring red flag comes into the scene.

Unfortunately, people in love tend to not pay attention to the things that they do not like.
Instead, they choose to focus on what is good about their lover. However, this can be extremely detrimental in the long run. If you want to be in a happy relationship, you need to be with someone who you are compatible with and who fits you well. If someone does not, they are probably not meant for you. It is wrong for you to think that you can “fix” them, and make them good for you.

What you need to do is to notice all the red flags as they come and terminate the relationship as soon as it becomes unacceptable for you.

See Also: 10 Red Flags to Consider Before Getting Serious in a Relationship

Not establishing clear boundaries

This mistake links back to the first point on this list since they are closely connected. In fact, not establishing clear boundaries often becomes the cause of falling into obsessive behaviours and focusing on your partner too much.

This is why you need to remember that the two of you are not to be indivisible. It is okay if both of you have your own personal space which the other one would not violate. It is okay to have some privacy, and it is not to foster any jealousy or secrecy. In fact, privacy in relationships does not equate to secrecy. Privacy is needed to be able to be your own person and is not related to you having secrets from your partner.

In addition to that, it is undeniable that the world of dating is wide and varied. It means
different things for different people. Everyone has their very own understanding of what is
acceptable in a relationship and what is best be avoided. it is important for the two of you as a couple to decide what aspects are okay with you, and which ones cross the line for you.

All in all, you need to be aware of the fact that despite being together, the both of you should still remain your own separate entities.

Comparing your current significant other to the relationships you have had in the past

They say, your current self are made of your dreams and aspirations, your thoughts and your past. When it comes to dating, however, it is best that you keep your past out of the equation.

Of course, it is completely normal to remember some bits of your past relationships and respect the lessons you have learnt from dating those people. What is not adequate, however, is constantly comparing and contrasting your current partner to your exes. Not only that is irrelevant, but that also makes your significant other doubt your feelings for them since it seems like you are not over that person you dated before them.

Besides, you should also remember that no people can be exactly the same.

Therefore, you will not be able to have the same experiences that you went through in the past.

If you want to have a happy relationship, it is pivotal for you to remember that each and every relationships is a fresh start and you have to treat it as such. Live in the moment, and look up to the things you will go through with your current partner as opposed to reminiscing over the stuff that you and your ex shared.

Lacking in the communication department

This perhaps, could be one of the primary and worst mistakes people in relationships make, lack of communication between partners. The truth is that any relationship, let alone a romantic one, are based on human trust and communication.

By dating someone, you give that person an access to your heart and let them be your companion through thick and thin. However, even then they do not have access to your brain and cannot possibly know what exactly is on your mind. And neither can you.

As it has been discussed previously, you can actually save your relationship by arguing as that will help you express your feelings and let your partner know what you’re thinking. However, it is not necessarily negativity that you need to express. Relationship is a continuous communication process. It is helpful when two people talk about their thoughts and ideas.

The worst thing that one can do when dating is assuming what their partner means. And act based on those assumptions. That can instantly worsen your relationship and bring it to a logical end. It is absolutely essential that you discuss everything that needs to be discussed.

Moreover, it is also important for you to not only listen to your partner but also hear what they are saying. Often, we agree to have a conversation yet we are still not ready to communicate. That is ineffective and does not give any positive results. In fact, that only ever leaves both parties unhappy and annoyed with each other. Therefore, in order to communicate with your significant other successfully, you need to actually trust what they are saying and give them the benefit of the doubt.

Spending too little (or too much) time with each other

relationship mistake

Something a lot of couples are guilty of is not being able to find the right amount of time to
spend with each other. Both too little and too much time spent with each other can be harmful to the relationship and result with dissatisfaction from both parties.

When you are not investing enough time into your relationship and end up being too distant from your significant other, you risk losing the connection with them. While it is a gradual process that takes a lot of time to fully happen, it is likely to be irreversible. Once you lose touch with your loved one, you will find it extremely difficult to reconnect.

Therefore, it is important to schedule your life in such a way that the two of you would have some time to be intimate with each other and just have some quality time together.

At the same time, however, it is vital that you do not overdo it. Being together all the time can be rather negative for your relationship. It can lead to the aforementioned dating mistakes such as making your partner the center of your universe and your boundaries being blurred out.

To put it simply, even if you love them a lot, being together too much can make you get bored of them or even make them start getting on your nerves. It is important to have an opportunity to take small breaks in your time spent together, so you would have a chance to start missing each other and then have an outburst of oxytocin when you finally see each other!

Going with your brain and not your heart

At last but definitely not the least, love is an incredibly complicated concept. While scientists claim that love is simply a chain of chemical reactions in your brain, in reality, it is so much more than that! Love is wonderful in its spontaneity and unpredictability. And the worst thing you can do when dating somebody into a happy relationship is to try and calculate it.

The post Dating Mistakes To Avoid for Happy Relationships! appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

The best headphones for Samsung loyalists in the UK

The best headphones for Samsung loyalists in the UK

Your Samsung smartphone might offer plenty of great features, but the headphones that came with it probably aren’t that great. You are better off upgrading and buying separate earphones or headphones that offer a far superior listening experience.

Before you jump in and invest in a fancy new set, it’s worth having a think about how you intend on using your headphones. Are you planning on commuting with them regularly? Do you travel frequently? Do you love using Samsung’s voice assistant? It’s important to pick a pair that works for you.

Are Beats headphones compatible with Samsung?

Apple bought headphone manufacturer Beats back in 2014 so it you might think that you can’t use Beats headphones with your Samsung smartphone. This is not the case. You can definitely still use your Beats headphones with a Samsung smartphone, although you’ll miss out on things like Quick Glance to see your battery life.   Read more…

More about Samsung, Mashable Shopping, Consumer Tech, Uk Deals, and Tech

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IMAGE: Samsung



BEST FOR SIMPLICITY

Samsung Galaxy Buds

Great all-around headphones, especially if you don’t want to spend a while tweaking.

  • Colours: Black, White, and Yellow
  • Battery life: 6 hours (doubled when using carrying case)


£139 from Samsung

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IMAGE: Amazon



BEST FOR TRAVEL

Sony WH-1000XM3

These super smart noise-cancelling headphones can detect ambient noise around you and adjust as needed.

  • Colours: Black and Silver
  • Battery life: 30 hours (with active noise-cancellation on)


£330 from Amazon

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IMAGE: Amazon



BEST FOR SOUND QUALITY

Bose QuietComfort 35

Besides offering a balanced audio experience, these have three levels of noise cancellation so you can block out the world.

  • Colours: Black, Silver, and Rose Gold
  • Battery life: Up to 20 hours wireless and 40 hours wired


£260 from Amazon

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IMAGE: Amazon



BEST FOR VOICE SUPPORT

Beats Solo3

You’ll get a bit of everything: fast battery charging, a stylish look, and useful features.

  • Colours: Black, Red, Club Navy, Club Red, Club White, Club Yellow, Rose Gold, Satin Gold, and Satin Silver
  • Battery life: 40 hours


£179.95 from Amazon

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IMAGE: Amazon



BEST FOR OLDER SAMSUNG SMARTPHONES

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Creative Outlier Gold

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Dahmakan, a Malaysian “full-stack” food delivery startup, raises $18 million Series B

Dahmakan, a full-stack food delivery startup based in Malaysia, announced today that it has closed a $18 million Series B. Investors include Rakuten Capital, White Star Capital, JAFCO Asia and GEC-KIP Fund, along with participation from South Korean food delivery app Woowa Brothers, and returning investors Partech Partners and Y Combinator.

This brings Dahmakan’s total funding to about $28 million. Its previous round of financing was announced last May.

Launched by former executives from FoodPanda, Dahmakan was the first Malaysian startup to participate in Y Combinator’s startup accelerator program. Operational costs for food delivery companies are notoriously high, and eat away at their profitability, but Dahmakan is among several startups that use “cloud” kitchens, located closer to customers, in order to reduce delivery costs.

The foundation of the startup’s full-stack platform is an operating system that controls nearly every step of its operations, from recipe development to last-mile delivery, and its cloud kitchens are part of “satellite” hubs placed around different cities to be closer to customers.

Instead of delivering from restaurants, Dahmakan creates its own meals, offering about 40 options each week from a database of 2,000 dishes. It selects its weekly menu based on customer data, including food preferences and spending habits, along with market research.

Then customers are given a menu and pick from a schedule of delivery times. Other startups trying to make food delivery more efficient in Southeast Asia by using a vertically-integrated model and cloud kitchens include Grain, which s backed by investors including Openspace Ventures, First Gourmet and Singha Ventures.

In a press statement about Dahmakan’s funding, White Star Capital managing partner Eric Martineau-Fortin said “Dahmakan is well-positioned to serve the growing demand for food delivery services in Southeast Asia with its unique, technology-forward approach of taking control of the entire value chain to provide affordable delivery options to SEA’s rising middle class.”

How To Transform Your Logo Into A Piece Of Art

We all know just how important the logo is for any company or brand. You don’t have to listen to me rant on and on about the importance of the logo, how it is supposed to be memorable and evergreen and everything else. You know it better than I do.

That is why a lot of companies pay a hefty amount to a logo design company to make the logo as relatable, relevant, and sometimes mysterious as they can. Your company’s logo is supposed to tell your story. People should relate to it. It should have the right colors and geometry to be easily understandable and memorable.

It’s not like sitting down on your desk, drawing a circle, using a font to type in your company or brand’s name and voila! You have yourself a logo.

Oh no, no, no!

It takes much more effort than that.

That is why a lot of people must have told you to use a logo design service instead of doing it yourself. You may be good at business, sales, marketing, but if you are not on the up and up with the logo design world, you just might end up with an average logo that looks like a hundred others.

This is what happens when you use free logo maker websites and software. A totally uninteresting, uninspiring and boring logo that no one wants to look at.

So, the question is, whether you are a company or a logo designer, how do you ensure that your logo is not among the hundreds of logos out there that all look the same? How do you ensure that your logo stands out and catches the eye of the audience?

By……..wait for it…….turning it into art.

SAY WHAT NOW?

Yes, you heard me right. There are a million different ways that you can turn your logo into a piece of art that people will talk about for decades to come. It is difficult, but totally possible. Later in this article, we will discuss how you can do that and what are the elements that you will need to incorporate in order to do so.

But for now, let’s talk about how to begin. It’s not like you have a clear idea about designing your logo. So, experiment with various logo templates to get yourself warmed up first. It can also be the starting point of your journey towards making a killer and memorable logo design. It can give you an initial idea of where to begin and just might give you further ideas that you can adapt and incorporate later on.

Do you have a logo maker tool that’s handy? Is there an online app? Make a few logos and circulate them among your friends and colleagues to find out what they think about them. They can suggest any edits that they think you might need. Getting your peers on your side is something that you really need.

So now that we’re done with the warm up exercises, let’s dive into the world of logo designing and see how you can make your logo stand out.

Do you know what a Visual Double Entendre is?

A double entendre is a figure of speech or anything else that can convey two different meanings. Simple as that. A visual double entendre is the same thing but the double meaning is conveyed visually. Some of the world’s most renowned logos use this element to increase the engagement level of their logos and people all around the world remember these logos for their wittiness.

Take for example the Amazon logo. Now who doesn’t know Amazon? At first glance, the logo has an arrow that goes from the ‘A’ in the beginning to the ‘Z’ in the middle and it looks like they are saying that they provide service with a smile. The thing that a lot of people miss is that the arrow is pointing from ‘A’ to ‘Z’, meaning that they have everything that you might ever need or want.

visual double entendre amazon logo

Another great example is the Baskin Robbins logo that uses the curves of the letter ‘B’ and the straight line of the ‘R’ to show their audience just how many flavors they actually have.

The Importance of Colors

One of the most essential decisions that people tend to make about their logos is the colors that they want to use. You might think that it is an easy decision, but it’s not.
You may or may not know this, but every color conveys a deep meaning that resonates with the audience and if you don’t get it right, you just might end up losing your audience instead of gaining one. Colors can communicate various messages and ideas.

For example, red is the color of danger, but it is also the color of excitement and Coca Cola has used it to great effect.

coca cola logo

There is a rich palate of colors that you can truly explore before selecting one or more for your logo. Because once you have a logo, you might not be able to make a lot of changes to it, much less change it for something else. The colors that you use can either grab the audience’s attention and pull them in or they can push them away. The best thing about the color palate is that it is completely up to you. You can even choose a gray scale logo if you think it works.

Avoid the Cliches

Just like every other industry, the logo design industry is also prone to various trends and fads that come and go. What a lot of good businesses do is to follow these trends and fads and generate a logo according to them. What they don’t remember is that trends last for a little while and then fade away.

It doesn’t mean that you stay away from every new thing that enters the market. Study them, do your research on them, but also make sure that you don’t jump on the bandwagon for the pretext of keeping up with the times. It accomplishes nothing more than a bunch of similar looking logos created by different people.

Own Your Logo

Everyone owns a logo, right? So, what am I talking about here?

When I say ‘Own your logo’, I mean that instead of taking into account the latest trend and going for it, you should do your research about the company or the brand. Get to know their products and services, their background story, and then come up with something that reflects those things. That will resonate more with the viewers and they will relate with it instantly.

As an example, let me show you the Evernote logo.

evernote logo

If you look at it, it is just an elephant head which has got nothing to do apparently with the app. Or does it? Remember anything about elephants and their memories? Now check out the way the trunk is curled and the way the ear is marked/folded. That is something that the viewers can immediately connect with.

Say It with the Fonts

Sometimes you don’t need to put so much effort into the colors and the design of it. Sometimes you can do it all with the typeface. Give your simple and minimalistic logo a creative and unique font to make it awesome and super memorable. As an example, I will have to go back to the Coca Cola logo. The font became so famous that a lot of other companies started stealing it and using it as their own typeface in their logos. Now that is the kind of uniqueness that every logo designer is going for.

Go Negative

Yup! You heard me right. You can use the negative space in your logo to create illusions and tricks just like a logo with a double entendre. Instead of talking about it, let me just show you what I mean.

Do you see the hidden arrow between the ‘E’ and the ‘x’? Now if that is not an ingenious idea, I don’t know what is. The use of negative space in the FedEx logo is amazing.
Now that you know how negative space can be used, check out the NBC logo and see if you can figure out how they have used the negative space.

This one is pretty easy, right?

Summing It Up

Knowing these things can greatly help a logo designer, whether you are working in-house or as a contractor. You can show your client just how much effort you have actually put into the logo and blow their minds away.

See Also: Building Your Personal Brand: 3 Ways To Stand Above The Noise

The post How To Transform Your Logo Into A Piece Of Art appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

BTS ‘Carpool Karaoke’ just dropped and it’s every bit as glorious as we’d hoped

BTS 'Carpool Karaoke' just dropped and it's every bit as glorious as we'd hoped

It’s finally here, folks. The big one. 

BTS Carpool Karaoke was first teased last week, in a tweet showing Corden packed into a vehicle with all seven members of the unstoppable K-pop boyband (RM, of course, sat up front) — and now we have the full episode itself.

In the 17-minute video above, we see BTS attempting to sing the Friends theme song, more successfully singing Bruno Mars’ “Finesse,” and Corden doing his best to become part of the band. Then to cap it all off, the group stop by a dance class after “Baby Mochi” Jimin says he wants to see “Papa Mochi” Corden dance.

The stakes were high, but BTS have, once again, more than delivered. Read more…

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On-demand tutoring app Snapask gets $35 million to expand in Southeast Asia

Snapask, an on-demand tutoring app, announced today that it has raised $35 million in Series B funding. Earmarked for the startup’s expansion in Southeast Asia, the round was led by Asia Partners and Intervest.

Launched in Hong Kong five years ago, Snapask has now raised a total of $50 million and operates in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan and South Korea. Its other investors have included Kejora Ventures, Ondine Capital and SOSV Chinaccelerator (Snapask participated in its accelerator program).

Founder and CEO Timothy Yu said Snapask will expand into Vietnam and focus on markets in Southeast Asia where there is a high demand for tutoring and other private education services. It will also open a regional headquarter in Singapore and develop video content and analytics products for its platform.

The company now has a total of 3 million students, with 1.3 million who registered over the past twelve months (including a recent surge that Yu attributes to students studying at home after COVID-19 related school cancellations). Over the past year, 100,000 tutors have applied, taking Snapask’s current total to 350,000 applicants.

Yu says that over 2 million questions are asked by students each month on the platform, with each subscriber typically asking about 60 questions a month, during tutoring sessions that last between 15 to 20 minutes. The majority, or about two-thirds, of the questions are about math and science-related topics.

One thing all of Snapask’s markets have in common are highly-competitive public exams to enter top universities, says Yu. The exams have both a positive and negative effect on education, he adds.

“Students have a very clear objective about what topics they need to study, so that is driving a very lucrative market in the tutoring industry. But I think what Snapask focuses on is that exams are important, but you should do it the right way. We’re about self-directed learning. It’s not necessary to go to three-hour classes every day after school. If you need specific help on a question, you can ask for it immediately.”

While at university, Yu worked as a math tutor, and sometimes spent a total of two hours commuting to sessions that lasted the same amount of time. In markets like Malaysia or Indonesia, many educators chose to work in major cities, leaving students in rural areas with less options. The goal of Snapask is to help solve those issues and connect tutors with more students.

Yu says the average time for students to connect with a tutor after asking a question is about 15 to 20 minutes, which it is able to do because of machine learning-based technology that matches them based on educational styles, subject and availability. Snapask’s matching algorithms are also based on how students engage with tutors (for example, if they respond better to concise or longer, more elaborate answers). Students can also pick up to 15 to 20 tutors for their favorites list, who are prioritized when matching.

Yu says Snapask screens tutors by looking at their university transcripts and public exam results. Then they go through a probation period on the platform to assess how they interact with students. The platform also tracks how many messages are sent during a tutoring session and response times to make sure that tutors are explaining students’ questions instead of just giving them the answers.

Tutors can talk to up to 10 students at a time through Snapask’s platform. Yu says Snapask tutors in Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and South Korea who spend about two hours per day answering questions usually make about $1,200 a month, while those who work about four to five hours a day can make about $4,000 to $5,000 a month. The company uses different pricing models in Southeast Asian markets, and Yu says tutors there can make about 50% to 60% more than they would at traditional tutoring jobs.

Other study apps focused on students some of the same markets as Snapask include ManyTutors and Mathpresso, whose products combine tutoring services with tools that let students upload math questions, which are then scanned with optical character recognition to provide instant answers. Yu says Snapask is focusing on one-on-one tutoring because it wants to differentiate by creating a “holistic experience.”

“A lot of students come to Snapask after using OCR tools, which we know that user surveys, but they can’t get to certain steps. They still need someone to help them understand what is happening,” he says. “So we try not to use technology for every component in teaching, but to make it more efficient and scalable, and we’re creating a holistic experience to differentiate us.”

The People and Tech Behind Data Science Explained

Within the past few years, the study of data science and machine learning has exploded into its own job field. However, the tech subgenre has been galavanting to the mainstream for nearly 3 centuries. It all started sometime in the 1740s with Bayes’ Theorem.

Today, the demand for data scientists is at its peak and is only continuing to surge. By the end of this year, there will have been 2.7 million data scientist job openings. The million-dollar question is:

What do data scientists do?

To be direct, data science is the process of analyzing data. Explaining with more complexity, data scientists use heterogeneous data – data that were composed of different forms or dissimilar components – to solve rigorous problems.

To do so, data scientists use their master skills in computer science, high-level mathematics, and more. These aforementioned skills are especially unique to data scientists developing industrial machine learning technologies, programs, and Enterprise AI.

data scientists do

In short, data scientists take three steps in analyzing their data: preparing, testing, and capturing. Of course, 2-3 individual tasks are necessary to complete each step.

Preparing

To prepare for data analysis, data must be first captured. In other words, the first task in a data scientist’s work is to simply collect their data. Scientists can extract or acquire them. To further prepare for data analysis, the scientist then maintains their data, safely storing and staging it.

Some data storage methods include scalable storage optimized with artificial intelligence. Finally, the data undergo processing which involves mining and classification.

Testing

Once data scientists are done with preparation, having completed the previously mentioned tasks, they will move on to physically testing their findings. Think back to your public school science fair days:

What must you do before testing your data?

Draft a hypothesis or an educated guess. It involves developing a theory to test with the data model. After this, the data is finally ready for analysis. This is the stage where new findings based on the initially collected data are discovered. It’s often done by modeling, exploring, and experimenting with data to reach desired outcomes and to decide what the data means.

what data scientists do

Capturing

All that’s left to do at this point is to communicate the results. Reconnecting data science to science fair procedures, how would you express your final discoveries? Perhaps a visual aid, such as a tri-fold poster board.

While data scientists may not necessarily take this route of expression, they create an easily understood picture of the model’s predictions. It’s easily translatable to an audience of laymen. The final task in data analysis is to apply your results. It’s to help end-users understand how to use the predictions to take effective actions within their business.

See Also: The Importance of Big Data In Business And Your Success

Who are data scientists?

More importantly, how do you become one?

Jenn Gamble, Director of Noodle.ai – the leading machine learning software giant – spoke on the subject, saying, “You don’t necessarily need a Ph.D. to do data science – you need an aptitude for math and a creative, problem-solving mentality.”

By 2025, we will be creating data worth 175 billion terabytes on a daily basis, so the primary way to fully understand and analyze the world’s surging data is to hire more data scientists with access to advanced tools.

Some of the most popular tools in the industry include the R programming language, python, PyTorch, hadoop, and Apache Spark. Among the most crucial roles needing fulfillment in the machine learning job economy are data engineers, AI hardware specialists, and software engineers.

Data engineers create and maintain the methods which bring in data, needing skills in Scikit-learn, AForge.NET, and/or Java programming language. Software engineers analyze business data and design software to fit needs, needing skills in Java programming language, SQL, and/or python. Lastly, AI hardware specialists create and program AI to perform specific tasks, needing skills in machine learning, python, Saas, and Java programming language.

Data science provides opportunities for people to express their creativity.

It gives them the means to create technology that can initiate changes worldwide. Think about all of the space exploration, autonomous vehicles, personalized medicine, and personalized education that have been created within the past few years. They are the work of data scientists.

This isn’t all, however.

Data scientists have also created technologies capable of monitoring wildlife migration and optimize energy. The essentiality of data science is no question. In fact, between just 2011 and 2012, job listings for “data scientist” increased by 15,000%.

Find out more about what data science is below.

The post The People and Tech Behind Data Science Explained appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Graphcore, the AI chipmaker, raises another $150M at a $1.95B valuation

The UK has a strong history when it comes to chips and processors, but the global chip market has seen some ups and downs of late. Today comes some big news that underscores how investors are doubling down on one of the big hopefuls for the next generation of chipmaking to see it through the winter. Graphcore, the Bristol-based startup that designs processors specifically for artificial intelligence applications, announced that it has raised another $150 million in funding for R&D and to continue bringing on new customers. It’s valuation is now $1.95 billion.

Graphcore has now raised over $450 million and says that it has some $300 million in cash reserves — an important detail considering the doldrums that have plagued the chipmaking market in the last few months, and could become exacerbated now with the slowdown in production due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The funding is an extension of its Series D, it said, and brings the total valuation of the company to $1.95 billion. (For reference, the original Series D in December 2018 valued Graphcore at $1.7 billion.) This latest round includes investments from Baillie Gifford, Mayfair Equity Partners and M&G Investments — all new backers — as well as participation from previous investors Merian Chrysalis, Ahren Innovation Capital, Amadeus Capital Partners and Sofina. Other backers of the startup include BMW and Microsoft, Atomico and Demis Hassabis of DeepMind.

Graphcore’s big claim to fame has been the development of what it calls its Intelligence Processing Unit (IPU) hardware and corresponding Poplar software — which is designed specifically for the kind of simultaneous, intensive calculations demanded of AI applications innovators create next generation machine intelligence solutions. Graphcore describes the IPU as the first processor to be designed specifically for AI, although a number of other companies including Nvidia, Intel and AMD have made huge investments into this area and have ramped up their pace of development to meet market demands and hopefully overtake what have been limitations in the wider area of AI processing.

This D2 round comes ahead of what it describes as strong demand for 2020, and is happening on the heels of a strong year for Graphcore, the company said, including a commercial deal with one of its previous strategic backers.

“2019 was a transformative year for Graphcore as we moved from development to a full commercial business with volume production products shipping,” said Nigel Toon, founder and CEO. “We were pleased to publicly announce our close partnership with Microsoft in November 2019, jointly announcing IPU availability for external customers on the Azure Cloud, as well as for use by Microsoft internal AI initiatives. In addition, we announced availability of the DSS8440 IPU Server in partnership with Dell Technologies and the launch of the Cirrascale IPU-Bare Metal Cloud. We also announced some of our other early access customers which include Citadel Securities, Carmot Capital, and Qwant, the European search engine company.”

See Toon speaking at our recent Disrupt conference in Berlin about the prospect for chips here:

BTS and Jimmy Fallon playing party games is silly, chaotic fun

BTS and Jimmy Fallon playing party games is silly, chaotic fun

Monday’s episode of the Tonight Show saw K-pop group BTS join Jimmy Fallon for a round of Subway Olympics, playing several games that probably won’t appear in the real Olympics any time soon. These included Protect the Duck, in which players attempted to knock a rubber duck off each other’s hand, and Dance Your Shades and Gloves Off, which was exactly what it sounds like. 

It was predictably chaotic, with J-Hope accidentally slapping Jin in the face at one point, but it wouldn’t be BTS playing games without some silly antics. There was even a bit of cheeky cheating, with Jimin sneakily sticking Post-Its on Jungkook well after time was up. Read more…

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5 Surprising Benefits of Bringing Dogs In The Workplace

Thanks to the evolution of global office culture, managers and business owners have started to go against the norm and adopt non-traditional office policies. Aside from providing flextime benefits and the option to work remotely, more offices are starting to see the value of allowing dogs in the workplace.

Whether it’s for your staff or team leads, bringing your dogs to work can be beneficial in several ways. Aside from helping them get through tough bouts of work, dogs have the power to boost employee engagement and even inspire productivity.

If you want to switch up your company’s performance or help maintain the well-being of your staff, you should definitely consider this option.

Not convinced yet?

Take a look at these five surprising benefits of bringing your dogs in your workplace!

Encourages communication

Dogs can be an excellent icebreaker especially for your newcomers or shy employees. Pets are generally a common interest. Since they bring a friendlier vibe to the office, they unconsciously encourage your staff to talk to one another.

Since communication plays a big part in getting tasks and projects done, dogs can provide opportunities for casual conversations. This can significantly improve team communication and cooperation in the long run.

Boost employee morale

Hectic deadlines, demanding clients, and the happenings of everyday life can sometimes get the best of anyone. When mid-day blues strike, your employees may feel very drained and have a hard time getting back on track. Luckily, a dog’s presence can be enough to help everyone get through that hump.

Dogs are an instant mood booster and can help your employees recharge. Giving the office canine a belly scratch can feel like a breath of fresh air. It’s a lot more effective than gripping a random stress ball or fidget toy. By improving the quality of their breaks, it’ll be easier for them to gather themselves and get back on track.

See Also: 7 Ways Pets Affect Emotional and Physical Health

Promotes a healthy lifestyle

having dog in the workplace

Staying fit inside the workplace can be a challenge for many. The average employee spends around 45 hours a week inside the office and most of the time, they’re just glued to their desks. To make matters worse, their tight schedules may prevent them from following a consistent workout routine.

Other than helping you manage your mood and stress, letting pets in the office can actually pave the way for a healthier lifestyle. Taking a dog to work means waking up early.

Since owners have more things to prepare in the morning, they need to follow a consistent bedtime routine to make sure that they get enough hours of sleep. Once they get to the office, they need to take their pets outside for potty breaks regularly. It’s a simple but very effective way that dogs help you maintain your health by getting up and moving.

Improves employee retention

If you want to improve your retention rates, you need to keep your employees happy. To do this successfully, you need to help them fulfill their needs in and out of the office. For instance, an employee may be living alone with a dog, and there may be cases when the pet may require supervision.

Given this situation, having a dog-friendly policy can really lighten the load on their shoulders. By helping them take care of matters outside their personal life even within the confines of the workplace, they’re more likely to feel satisfied with their jobs and stay.

Win the recruitment race

bringing dogs in the workplace

From a managerial perspective, allowing dogs in the workplace can give your company an edge in the recruitment race. A dog-friendly workspace is often very happy.

The policies you’ve implemented and the benefits provided are significant, but nothing can attract your prospects better than being in a fun environment filled with friendly employees and fluffy cuteness. In the end, allowing pets in the office will definitely increase your chances of acquiring top-tier talent.

Back in the day, having pets in the office was nothing but a dream. However, advances in technology and cultural shift have made transforming a boring office into a flexible workspace a lot easier than you think.

Instead of investing in expensive pieces of furniture, buying the latest coffee machine or adopting unfeasible policies, something as simple as bringing pets in the office can change your whole office completely.

Other than changing the atmosphere of your workspace, it can pave the way for improved individual and team performance, better working relationships, and the development of your company culture.

The post 5 Surprising Benefits of Bringing Dogs In The Workplace appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Created to help employees figure out health benefits, HealthJoy raises $30 million

HealthJoy, a platform designed to make it easier for employees to use their healthcare benefits, has raised $30 million in Series C funding led by Health Velocity Capital. Returning investors also participated, including U.S. Venture Partners, Chicago Ventures, Epic Ventures, Brandon Cruz and Clint Jones. This brings HealthJoy’s total funding so far to $53 million.

By integrating with healthcare service providers and partnering with benefit consultant agencies, HealthJoy simplifies the process of finding and using benefits. Its features include an AI-based virtual assistant and healthcare concierges. The startup says it has a monthly login rate of 33% and that its clients, which now includes 500 employers, see a tenfold increase in the employee use of benefits, including telemedicine.

Since TechCrunch covered HealthJoy’s Series B round last year, the company has launched two new services. One is a price transparency tool called HealthJoy Rewards that allows companies to provide incentives for employees to use more cost-efficient services.

“For example, an MRI in Chicago can vary in price from around $500 for an independent clinic to around $3,500 in a hospital system,” HealthJoy founder and CEO Justin Holland told TechCrunch. “Our rewards platform allows companies to customize the incentive, but we provide nearly 100 recommendations. We’re showing an amazing ROI for companies that have adopted the program since we’re targeting high-cost procedures.”

The second new service is called HealthJoy EAP, an employee assistance program that Holland says is a priority for further development. It gives 24/7 access to short-term counseling, with several sessions available for free.

“Addressing mental heath is of extreme importance for companies in today’s world. Access to traditional counseling is on decline in many rural areas due to lack of access. In cities, costs have risen so many users are priced out of the market,” he says.

The funding will also be used to improve HealthJoy’s virtual assistant, develop new services, integrate with more partners and aggregate data. HealthJoy plans to add 200 employees in its Chicago office during 2021, with the goal of doubling its engineering team. Future plans include working with more small- to medium-sized businesses and a potential partnership to serve Medicare recipients.

Other startups focused on employee benefits include League, Catch and Collective Health. Holland says HealthJoy integrates with, instead of competing with, benefits administration platforms and differentiates by being able to work with any benefits package.

Health Velocity Capital partner Saurabh Bhansali will join HealthJoy’s board of directors. In a press statement, Bhansali said “HealthJoy offers proven technology solutions to help navigate employees through our nation’s complex and costly healthcare system, one that costs US employees over $1.2 trillion each year. Healthjoy has shown that it can deliver substantial cost savings to employers while simplifying the employee healthcare experience.”

7-year-old Simone Lim is Oceania’s adorable new Pokémon champion

7-year-old Simone Lim is Oceania's adorable new Pokémon champion

Simone Lim is the very best, like no-one ever was, and now the adorable seven-year-old Pokémon trainer has a championship title to prove it.

The Pokémon Oceania International Championships were held in Melbourne, Australia over the weekend, with the finals for all divisions taking place on Sunday. Pokémon trainers from all over the world gathered to test themselves in video and card game tournaments, fighting for glory, honor, and a modest cash prize. 

This year, the highlight of the tournament was the exciting Junior Championships grand final for Pokémon Sword and Shield, in which Singaporean trainer and relative newcomer Simone Lim made an incredible read to win both the title and everyone’s hearts. Read more…

More about Pokemon, Video Games, Esports, Pokemon Trainer, and Tournaments

Startups Weekly: What the E-Trade deal says about Robinhood

[Editor’s note: Want to get this weekly review of news that startups can use by email? Just subscribe here.] 

How well do Robinhood’s financials stack up against incumbent online brokerages? While we wait for the seven-year-old company’s long-planned IPO, Alex Wilhelm examined Morgan Stanley’s big $13 billion purchase of E-Trade for fresh data comparison points. Robinhood has 10 million accounts — twice what E-Trade has — but it also appears to make much less money per user and has far fewer assets under management, as he covered for Extra Crunch. So while its fee-free approach has destroyed a key revenue stream for competitors, it still has to grow its own “order-flow” business into its private-market valuation.

One solution is to make the platform stickier via social features. On the same day as the E-Trade deal announcement, Robinhood launched a new Profiles feature to encourage users to share stock tips. Josh Constine explored the offering and where it is headed on TechCrunch, concluding that “Profiles and lists, and then eventually more social features, could get Robinhood’s users trading more so there’s more order flow to sell and more reason for them to buy subscriptions.”

Alex also took a look at a new report on fintech funding, which found last year was a peak overall — but skewed towards later-stage companies. Certainly, the wealth management segment is looking mature.

But the category is massive, with many more incumbents left to disrupt. What are fintech investors looking for? Check out our popular investor survey on this topic from November.

How your startup can use TikTok for growth

You know that TikTok is where the cool kids are these days, but maybe… how do I say… it is not the social media platform you know best when it comes to growth. So Geneviève Patterson and Hannah Donovan, founders of TikTok-oriented video editing app TRASH, have published a two-part guide to help you figure it out.
The first part, freely available on TechCrunch, walks you through how to increase your authority ranking in the TikTok algorithm, its review process, and pointers for making your own content. The second part, for Extra Crunch subscribers, goes deep on how TikTok decides whose content gets featured more (and less).

Fifth Wall’s Brendan Wallace: the proptech sector is hot despite WeWork

“Our mandate is any technology that can be strategic to the real estate industry,” the prolific investor told Connie Loizos in an extended interview for Extra Crunch this week. While WeWork may have depressed some investor interest, plenty of models are working great across various segments — so he and his partners are raising more funds. One of the hottest sectors, perhaps surprisingly, is in sustainable buildings. As Wallace details, public pressure, large-tenant pressure, large-investor pressure and new metro requirements have removed any choice that the industry has in the matter:

Make no mistake; we are front-and-center to what is happening in the real estate industry and the collision with technology, and this is the single-most-important thing that has happened to the real estate industry in the last five decades. The real estate industry is going to have to go carbon-neutral and that is brand-new.

Is this sector also your focus? Be sure to check out our survey of investors in construction robotics from last week to find out some of the latest opportunities, plus our overview survey of real estate and prop tech investors from November.

The future of manufacturing and warehouse robotics

Ahead of our big robotics conference at UC Berkeley in early March, we have been producing a whole series of surveys on robotics verticals. This week, our resident financial analyst Arman Tabatabai teamed up with our hardware editor turned conference organizer, Brian Heater, to do a series of interviews with VCs who are focused on warehouse and manufacturing robotics. Investors include:

Read more here.

Tell TechCrunch about gaming startups and remote work

Our media columnist Eric Peckham wants to feature your advice in two upcoming articles. If you have relevant expertise, click the links below and share your opinions.

Across the week

Do AI startups have worse economics than SaaS shops? (EC)

Elon Musk says all advanced AI development should be regulated, including at Tesla (TC)

SpaceX alumni are helping build LA’s startup ecosystem (EC)

Dear Sophie: I need the latest details on the new H-1B registration process (TC)

Tracking China’s astounding venture capital slowdown (EC)

The rise of the winged pink unicorn (TC)

Voodoo Games thrives by upending conventional product design (EC)

Ex-YC partner Daniel Gross rethinks the accelerator (TC)

How companies are working around Apple’s ban on vaping apps (EC)

Rippling starts billboard battle with Gusto (TC)

#Equitypod

This week was a fun combination of early-stage and late-stage news, with companies as young as seed stage and as old as PE-worthy joining our list of topics.

Danny and Alex were back on hand to chat once again. Just in case you missed it, they had some fun talking Tesla yesterday, and there are new Equity videos on YouTube. Enjoy!

This week the team argued about org-chart companies, debt raises, some of the items mentioned above, and much more. Details here.