Google will match up to $1M in donations for Hurricane Florence relief

As cities in Hurricane Florence’s path deal with its aftermath, Google will match up to $1 million in donations to help with relief efforts. The disaster’s death toll is currently 35 people and about 343,000 people in North Carolina are without electricity. The hurricane caused widespread flooding and property damage throughout North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.   Google drew attention to its Hurricane Florence donation campaign with a banner that appeared on top of Gmail for some users. Google has matched donations for other disasters before, including Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey last year. It’s also raised money for humanitarian efforts crises, like a 2015 matching program for up to $5.5 million in donations to provide aid to refugees in Europe. For that campaign, it temporarily added a “Donate” button to its search homepage. The company is partnering with non-profit Network for God to collect and distribute funds.
Continue reading "Google will match up to $1M in donations for Hurricane Florence relief"

Solving the mystery of sleep

Below are excerpts from the most recent episode of the Flux podcast hosted by RRE Ventures principal Alice Lloyd George. 

AMLG: Welcome back to the pod. I’m excited to be here with Dr. Assaf Glazer. He is the co-founder and CEO of Nanit a leading human analytics company that uses computer vision to help parents navigate their child’s sleep.

Essentially it’s a baby data collector that every sleep-deprived geek parent has dreamed of. A little background on Assaf: He got his Ph.D. at the Technion in Israel and was previously at Applied Materials as

Continue reading "Solving the mystery of sleep"

Google’s Work Insights helps businesses better understand how they work

At an event in Tokyo, Google today announced the launch of Work Insights, a new tool that gives businesses more insights into how their employees use the company’s G Suite productivity tools and how teams collaborate using those tools. In addition, Google is also launching its investigation tool for helping business better secure their data in G Suite into general availability. “Work Insights is a tool built specifically to help businesses measure and understand the impact of digital transformation within their organizations, driven by G Suite,” Reena Nadkarni, a group product manager for G Suite, explains in today’s announcement. Data is aggregated at the team level (where a team needs to have 10 people or more) to help businesses understand how their employees are adapting G Suite apps. As enterprises bet on one vendor or the other, there’s always a bit of a transition period and not everybody makes the
Continue reading "Google’s Work Insights helps businesses better understand how they work"

Google launches new AI initiatives in Japan

It’s no surprise that Google used its Cloud Next 2018 event in Tokyo today — one of a number of international Cloud Next events that follow its flagship San Francisco conference — to announce a couple of new initiatives that specifically focus on the Japanese market. These announcements include a couple of basic updates like translating its Machine Learning with TensorFlow on Google Cloud Platform Coursera specialization, its Associate Cloud Engineer certification and fifty of its hands-on Qwiklabs into Japanese. In addition, Google is also launching an Advanced Solutions Lab in Tokyo as well. Previously Google opened similar labs in Dublin, Ireland, as well as Sunnyvale and New York. These labs offer a wide range of machine learning-centric training options, collaborative workspaces for teams that are part of the company’s four-week machine learning training program, and access to Google experts.

(Photo by Hitoshi Yamada/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The company also
Continue reading "Google launches new AI initiatives in Japan"

TaskRabbit kicks off Canadian expansion

TaskRabbit officially launched in Canada today. The on-demand network that connects people with “taskers,” or others willing to do their household chores or errands for a fee, is kicking off its Canadian expansion in the greater Toronto area before rolling out in Vancouver in October and Montreal sometime in 2019. This is the first major move abroad for the company in some time, as well as its first move under IKEA’s ownership. TaskRabbit first expanded beyond the U.S. in 2014, when it launched its app in the UK. Otherwise, the service is only available in North America. IKEA bought TaskRabbit 1 year ago as part of a deal that has allowed the company to operate independently from the Swedish furniture retailer under CEO Stacy Brown-Philpot. TaskRabbit, before its exit, had raised $38 million from investors including Founders Fund, First Round Capital and Floodgate.

An Intel drone fell on my head during a light show

It didn’t hurt. I thought someone dropped a small cardboard box on my head. It felt sharp and light. I was sitting on the floor, along the back of the crowd and then an Intel Shooting Star Mini drone dropped on my head. Audi put on a massive show to reveal its first EV, the e-tron. The automaker went all out, put journalists, executives and car dealers on a three-story paddle boat and sent us on a two-hour journey across San Francisco Bay. I had a beer and two dumplings. We were headed to a long-vacated Ford manufacturing plant in Richmond, CA. By the time we reached our destination, the sun had set and Audi was ready to begin. Suddenly, in front of the boat, Intel’s Shooting Star drones put on a show that ended with Audi’s trademark four ring logo. The show continued as music pounded inside the
Continue reading "An Intel drone fell on my head during a light show"

Committed to privacy, Snips founder wants to take on Alexa and Google, with blockchain

Earlier this year we saw the headlines of how the users of popular voice assistants like Alexa and Siri and continue to face issues when their private data is compromised, or even sent to random people. In May it was reported that Amazon’s Alexa recorded a private conversation and sent it to a random contact. Amazon insists its Echo devices aren’t always recording, but it did confirm the audio was sent.

The story could be a harbinger of things to come when voice becomes more and more ubiquitous. After all, Amazon announced the launch of Alexa for Hospitality, its Alexa system for hotels, in June. News stories like this simply reinforce the idea that voice control is seeping into our daily lives. The French startup Snips thinks it might have an answer to the issue of security and data privacy. Its built its software to run 100% on-device, independently from
Continue reading "Committed to privacy, Snips founder wants to take on Alexa and Google, with blockchain"

Senate passes Music Modernization Act

<img alt="" src="https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/sx8Vd11BAZ5daWpz3H4PYgxBMlA=/0x0:3600x2400/1310x873/cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_image/image/61455591/909067474.jpg.0.0.jpg" />

The US Senate has approved the Music Modernization Act of 2018, S.2334, with unanimous consent, bringing the first reform for music licensing in 20 years on the cusp of becoming law. The companion version in the House previously passed in April, also with unanimous consent. The bill now must be reconsidered by the House and then ultimately signed by President Trump. Both of those are likely to happen, so the Senate was the last major hurdle.

Although the Music Modernization Act was overwhelmingly supported by artists, songwriters, and every other corner of the music industry (and many government officials), it met opposition this summer. Blackstone Group, whose mechanical licensing company Harry Fox Agency stands to be greatly impacted...

<a href="https://www.theverge.com/2018/9/18/17876660/senate-passes-music-modernization-act">Continue reading&hellip;</a>

Call for smart home devices to bake in privacy safeguards for kids

A new research report has raised concerns about how in-home smart devices such as AI virtual voice assistants, smart appliances, and security and monitoring technologies could be gathering and sharing children’s data. It calls for new privacy measures to safeguard kids and make sure age appropriate design code is included with home automation technologies. The report, entitled Home Life Data and Children’s Privacy, is the work of Dr Veronica Barassi of Goldsmiths, University of London, who leads a research project at the university investigating the impact of big data and AI on family life. Barassi wants the UK’s data protection agency to launch a review of what she terms “home life data” — meaning the information harvested by smart in-home devices that can end up messily mixing adult data with kids’ information — to consider its impact on children’s privacy, and “put this concept at the heart of future
Continue reading "Call for smart home devices to bake in privacy safeguards for kids"

The Punkt MP02 inches closer to what a minimalist phone ought to be

There’s an empty space in my heart for a minimalist phone with only the most basic functions. Bad for my heart, but good for a handful of companies putting out devices aiming to fill it. Punkt’s latest, the MP02, goes a little ways to making the device I desire, but it isn’t quite there yet. Punkt’s first device included just texting and calling, which would likely have worked as intended if not for the inconvenient choice to have it connect only to 2G networks. These networks are being shut down and replaced all over the world, so you would have ended up with a phone that was even more limited than you expected. The MP02 is the sequel, and it adds a couple useful features. It runs on 4G LTE networks, which should keep it connected for years to come, and it has gained both threaded texting (rather than
Continue reading "The Punkt MP02 inches closer to what a minimalist phone ought to be"

You thought Dieselgate was over? It’s not.

<img alt="" src="https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/bjtbSoVJ653ytVDnYtujoq249fs=/0x0:2040x1360/1310x873/cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_image/image/61454669/adias_171213_2194_0017.0.jpg" />

It’s been an electrifying month for the German auto industry. Mercedes-Benz presented its first all-electric SUV. BMW offered a glimpse of its upcoming EV strategy by unveiling a concept car. And Audi is going electric, as well. On Monday, the company celebrated the premiere of its first completely battery-powered car, the E-tron. Audi’s release party in San Francisco was especially unlikely when you consider what happened just three years ago.

As a part of Volkswagen Group, Audi played a central role in developing and installing illegal software in 11 million diesel cars in order to trick emissions tests. On September 18th, 2015, the US Environmental Protection Agency informed the public about VW’s and Audi’s violation of the Clean Air...

<a href="https://www.theverge.com/2018/9/18/17876012/dieselgate-volkswagen-vw-diesel-emissions-test-epa-german-auto-industry-mercedes-benz-bmw">Continue reading&hellip;</a>

Sen. Harris tells federal agencies to get serious about facial recognition risks

Facial recognition technology presents myriad opportunities as well as risks, but it seems like the government tends to only consider the former when deploying it for law enforcement and clerical purposes. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) has written the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Federal Trade Commission, and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission telling them they need to get with the program and face up to the very real biases and risks attending the controversial tech. In three letters provided to TechCrunch (and embedded at the bottom of this post), Sen. Harris, along with several other notable legislators, pointed out recent research showing how facial recognition can produce or reinforce bias, or otherwise misfire. This must be considered and accommodated in the rules, guidance, and applications of federal agencies. Other lawmakers and authorities have sent letters to various companies and CEOs or held hearings, but representatives for Sen. Harris explained that there is
Continue reading "Sen. Harris tells federal agencies to get serious about facial recognition risks"

How to Attract Luck 

When you look to people you admire for one reason or another, you might think that some part of their success—whether it’s their corner office, their new TV pilot or their beautiful vintage furniture—comes down to dumb luck.
Read more...

Evernote just slashed 54 jobs, or 15 percent of its workforce

It’s no secret that Evernote, the productivity app that lets people take notes and organize other files from their working and non-work life, has been trying to regain its former footing as one of the most popular apps in the U.S., and that doing so has been an ongoing struggle. Just two weeks ago, we reported that Evernote had lost several of its most senior executives, including its CTO Anirban Kundu, CFO Vincent Toolan, CPO Erik Wrobel and head of HR Michelle Wagner. Now, Chris O’Neill — who took over as CEO of Evernote in 2015 after running the business operations at the Google X research unit — is sharing more demoralizing news with employees. To wit, he’s firing dozens of them. At an an all-hands meeting earlier today, he told gathered staffers that Evernote has no choice but to lay off 54 people —  roughly 15
Continue reading "Evernote just slashed 54 jobs, or 15 percent of its workforce"

AMD’s new Ryzen 45W laptop chips will take on Intel’s Coffee Lake H series processors

<img alt="" src="https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/TGP5jbAZICSat_wAm9UdwH9bUzk=/0x0:2040x1360/1310x873/cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_image/image/61453305/acastro_180529_1777_amd_0002.0.0.jpg" />

AMD has made two new processors to counter Intel’s Coffee Lake H series chips, which are often found in gaming notebooks and mobile workstations. While these are largely just laptop versions of the desktop-class four-core processors that AMD already launched this year, the new chips could mark AMD’s expansion into more notebooks and mobile workstations.

The new AMD Ryzen 5 2600H and Ryzen 7 2800H are 45-watt processors with four CPU cores, eight processor threads, and Radeon Vega graphics. The new chips support DDR4 RAM up to 3200 MHz, which is decent compared to others on the market. Both 14nm chips can be configured to 35 watts of thermal design power or up to 54 watts, so laptop makers can choose a higher setting for better...

<a href="https://www.theverge.com/circuitbreaker/2018/9/18/17872832/amds-ryzen-45w-laptop-chips-intel-coffee-lake-h-series-processors">Continue reading&hellip;</a>

Amazon Kindle e-reader and Fire tablets are discounted for Prime members

<img alt="" src="https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/6Xvx7N5TGof_szT74wQ69CbEGGE=/0x318:1800x1518/1310x873/cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_image/image/61453039/akrales_171017_2067_gadgets_0036.0.jpg" />

Amazon has discounted the cost of its Kindle e-readers and Fire tablets for subscribers of Amazon Prime. We’re seeing prices for most of these products match what was offered during Prime Day 2018, which is to say that you can expect a discount between $30-40 depending on which model you’re interested in.

Keep in mind, the lowest prices are for the Kindle and Fire models with special offers, meaning Amazon ads will be baked into the sleep and lock screens. However, the same discounts...

<a href="https://www.theverge.com/good-deals/2018/9/18/17875578/amazon-kindle-fire-e-reader-tablets-are-prime-members-discount">Continue reading&hellip;</a>

Google releases Chrome OS 69 with new Material Theme design and Linux support

<img alt="" src="https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/QtVrB0SHW2kqV1mM7bKaHEUt5ag=/0x0:2040x1360/1310x873/cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_image/image/61452855/acastro_180416_1777_chrome_0001.0.jpg" />

Google’s big Chrome overhaul that arrived on desktop and mobile earlier this month is coming to Chromebooks today with the release of Chrome OS version 69. The really noticeable change is the new Material Theme redesign of Chrome itself, which brings tabs with rounded corners and some softer aesthetic elements, like a blank white new tab page, to the overall look and feel of the browser.

The redesign also delivers some nifty new features like instant search result info in the omnibox address bar for weather, sports, and other Search card items. Most Google Chrome users should already have this redesign on the iOS, Android, and desktop versions of Chrome. For Chrome OS users, version 69 also brings Linux support out of beta and into...

<a href="https://www.theverge.com/2018/9/18/17875978/google-chrome-os-69-material-theme-design-linux-support">Continue reading&hellip;</a>

Here’s what Google’s $149 Home Hub smart display will reportedly look like

Google is reportedly getting ready to launch some new hardware at its October 9 hardware event and we just learned a lot more about a new product that might be launching. It was rumored that Google was working on its own Smart Display, now we’ve got images of the Google Home Hub and details about its price tag via a report from AndroidAuthority.

via Android Authority

The device certainly looks like a Google Home product with all the fabric anyone could ask for and then far, far more on top of it. It’s rocking a 7-inch screen and will cost just $149, which is quite a bit cheaper than the 8-inch Lenovo Smart Display which is currently the cheapest option at $199 while its 10-inch varietal ships for $249 as does the stereo-speakered JBL Link View. Having played around with Lenovo’s product, Google has some very pretty software for their
Continue reading "Here’s what Google’s $149 Home Hub smart display will reportedly look like"

Amplify Partners locks in $200 million to transform technical founders into people who can actually lead a startup

Sunil Dhaliwal has had a solid run in his 20 years so far as a VC. Just two years out of Georgetown, Dhaliwal landed at Battery Ventures, a highly regarded venture firm. Fifteen years later, in 2012, he struck out on his own, creating Amplify Partners. It wasn’t so easy at first. His first fund required 18 months of on-again, off-again fundraising before closing with $49.1 million in capital commitments. But things have picked up substantially since. In fact, today, Amplify, once a micro fund, is taking the wraps off a third fund that it just closed with $200 million. Some early bets made this newest fund much easier to raise than even its second fund, which closed with $125 million in 2015. In addition to Dhaliwal’s personal track record, which includes leading deals at Battery like Netezza, acquired by IBM, and CipherTrust, acquired by Secure Computing
Continue reading "Amplify Partners locks in $200 million to transform technical founders into people who can actually lead a startup"