Pixel Slate hands-on: Google’s gorgeous Chrome OS tablet features odd choices

The Pixel 3 may have been the star of the show at Google’s event this week, but the Pixel Slate tablet offers a compelling new product category for the search giant. Well, not totally new. A few years ago, Google had the Pixel C, a beautiful Android tablet that was somewhat ahead of its time, given the OS couldn’t even run two apps side-by-side back then. The Pixel Slate instead offers a new vision for Google’s tablets, slotting in somewhere between the Pixel C and last year’s Pixelbook. It starts at $599 (sans keyboard) and comes in a wide range…

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Ecommerce is ignoring people with disabilities — here’s how it should change

In a time where a million different worthy causes are vying for our attention online, it’s impressive to note that World Wildlife Fund of Canada recently pulled off one of its most successful fundraisers of all time, bringing in over $21 million in revenue for the year. How did they do it? Not through a big marketing push, or a campaign tugging at the heartstrings of existing donors. They simply improved the accessibility of their website. Some updated tags on the backend, and a new mobile-friendly design, and suddenly, the “Donate Now” button was blowing up — along with the…

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10 easy steps to become a Slack scumbag

If you work at a company with remote workers or just a buttload of employees, odds are you’re using Slack to communicate. The work chat giant has all but completely taken over as the default mode of business communication, surpassing the fond tradition of tracing notes to one another in cocaine dust on the desk. Saying “to Slack” someone is nearly as canonized as the verbs “to Google” or “to WhatsApp.” You can’t escape it. Part of the reason why Slack is everywhere is because it’s just good. As much as I want to hate the medium which forces me…

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Architects, designers and landscapers swear by CAD. Now, get two of their most powerful programs at big discounts

For translating the dreams of an architect, designer or landscaper to life, they need a dependable visualization tool to sell their idea. For many of those professionals, Ashampoo 3D CAD apps are the digital tool of choice. Right now, TNW Deals is slashing the price on two of Ashampoo’s most popular programs — CAD Professional 6 and CAD Architecture 6 — by up to 89 percent off with this limited time offer.

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The Braveheart effect: How companies profit off our desire for freedom

“They may take our lives, but they will never take our freedom!” This often parodied quote from Mel Gibson’s William Wallace in the film Braveheart is something of a contradiction, and yet its sentiment is easy to understand. Nothing gets our hackles up more than being told that we have no choice over something. The powerful urge we get to regain a lost or threatened freedom, even at great cost, is formally called “reactance”. I call it the “Braveheart effect”. This effect is likely to kick in if we are told we must do something or that we can’t do…

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Review: Amazon’s Twitch NFL live stream shows potential future of live sports online

Sports fans can watch Thursday Night Football on Twitch this season, thanks to Amazon’s deal with the NFL. New interactive elements let fans quickly access stats and make predictions. (Twitch screenshots)

Amazon is using Twitch and its Thursday Night Football live streams to test new gamification features that might change the way we watch live sports — particularly if legal sports betting spreads across the country.

As part of a two-year deal with the NFL worth a reported $130 million, Amazon is streaming 11 Thursday Night Football games this season. It follows Amazon’s initial one-year deal with the NFL last season.

New this season is Amazon’s decision to stream games not only on Prime Video but also Twitch, the popular live-streaming platform it acquired for nearly $1 billion in 2014.

I tuned into the Twitch stream of the Eagles vs. Giants game on Thursday. Besides being free with no log-in credentials required (Prime Video stream requires a Prime membership) and the ability to chat with other Twitch streamers during the game, what caught my attention were the “Extensions.” These are interactive video player overlays Twitch introduced last year that are mainly used by video game streamers to add interactive elements to their live feed and increase engagement.

For the live NFL game, viewers could use Extensions to pull up a widget that showed the score, standings, and statistics.

But perhaps most compelling is how fans can make quarterly predictions, answering questions about varying projected stats — number of touchdowns; rushing yards; field goals; total possession time; average yards per play; etc. After each quarter, the user (you need a Twitch account) is rewarded with points and ranked against others on a live leaderboard.

The experience has a fantasy football-like feel, adding a game within the game that tests a user’s knowledge of the NFL. For a football matchup that I had little-to-no interest in, Extensions added a whole new element to the viewing experience.

“All sports want to increase engagement from their viewers — it’s the primary goal, for the most part,” said Rahul Sood, CEO of Unikrn, a leading esports betting startup. “The single best way to increase engagement is through betting and gamification of the content.”

There’s not much up for grabs for those atop the leaderboard other than bragging rights, but this type of live interactive technology could take off if sports betting becomes legal in more U.S. states.

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court ruled a federal ban on sports betting as unconstitutional, allowing states to legalize sports betting and creating a flurry of business opportunity.

New Jersey was the first state to act on the ruling and popular daily fantasy sports company DraftKings is already taking full advantage. It launched a digital sports betting platform that raked in upwards of $8.5 million in revenue from New Jersey-based users last month, according to Legal Sports Report.

It’s unclear if and how Amazon or Twitch will roll out real betting features with its NFL streams or other live sports. Twitch could also do something with Bits, its own virtual good.

But don’t be surprised if DraftKings has some new competition in the future, especially if Amazon can attract enough people to its stream. The NFL reported 2.1 million worldwide viewers for the Eagles vs. Giants game on Amazon/Twitch, compared to the 14.7 million who watched via traditional TV.

Amazon names first female broadcasting duo for Thursday Night Football on Prime Video

Amazon is also testing other interactive elements, including the ability to buy merchandise and partnering with popular Twitch streamers to provide commentary.

The experiments will be a good litmus test to see if sports fans prefer to watch live sports in this manner — with a bit more clutter, but added information and interaction — versus the traditional broadcast. It’s something I wish Twitter did more with its NFL streams, beyond showing relevant tweets adjacent to the game feed.

Last year, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said that live sports should look more like video games.

“Our deal with Twitch will be groundbreaking,” NBA G League President Malcolm Turner said in a statement last year after inking a streaming deal with Twitch. “By leveraging fan commentary, new technology and a passionate community, Twitch elevates video in a unique, engaging way that resonates with young viewers. We look forward to collaborating with their team to create something truly special for basketball fans.”

Future of live sports? How Amazon streamed NFL games to 200 countries and 600 types of devices

The NFL streaming deal is part of Amazon’s growing video arm that includes the company’s Prime video library and its Amazon Studios production unit. Amazon spent $4.5 billion in 2017 on video content as it competes with Netflix, Hulu, and others in the streaming industry.

It’s also part of Amazon’s continued push into sports. The company has several other live streaming deals with top leagues around the world and produces the All or Nothing sports documentaries available to Prime members. Amazon also recently hired longtime ESPN executive Marie Donoghue.

Amazon is among a handful of tech giants that will be in the running for lucrative live sports rights as existing big league deals with traditional broadcasters expire over the next several years. The Seattle-based company does have certain advantages — 100 million Prime members and a worldwide reach (Twitch and Prime Video are available in 200 countries) are a few.

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Week in Review: Most popular stories on GeekWire for the week of Oct. 7, 2018

Get caught up on the latest technology and startup news from the past week. Here are the most popular stories on GeekWire for the week of Oct. 7, 2018.

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As learning technologies enter a ‘heady place,’ DreamBox CEO thinks skepticism was justified

Being a little late out of the gate with new tech may not be a bad thing when you’re dealing with kids.

It’s not that DreamBox Learning‘s Jessie Woolley-Wilson is anti-technology. But the CEO of the Bellevue, Wash.-based company has been in the education technology industry long enough to see tech in schools progress through multiple stages, each with its own set of expectations.

In the initial stage, she said, success in edtech was defined as one-to-one computing. “How do we get more devices in front of kids because that’ll solve everything,” she recalled was the common refrain. “We’re going to revolutionize learning because we’re going to give every kid a desktop, at that time — not even laptop, desktop — and we realized that technology that remained on the periphery of learning was not going to move the mark.”

Since then, Woolley-Wilson said in an on-stage GeekWire Summit conversation with GreaterGood.com’s David Samuelson, the discussion about technology in schools has shifted. It’s moved from device and broadband access, to simple forms of personalization, and now to learning technologies. “What are kids learning, where are they stuck?,” she said. “And most importantly, what do we need to do as ‘learning guardians’ — parents, tutors, teachers, administrators — to get them unstuck?”

GreaterGood.com’s David Samuelson with DreamBox’s Jessie Woolley-Wilson at the GeekWire Summit. (Photo by Dan DeLong for GeekWire)

It’s a direction that DreamBox Learning, which has an adaptive math learning product for elementary and middle school students, has pursued for several years. And it’s attracted big names and big funding, from interest by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings to a majority $130 million investment from The Rise Fund earlier this year.

But despite progress and a positive outlook, Woolley-Wilson is fully aware of edtech’s missteps, too, including mistaken early efforts by some companies to go around the teacher. That’s created a “harder challenge” for some to believe in the potential of learning technologies.

“So I’m part of an industry that frankly has developed skepticism, justified skepticism about education and technology, about the promise of education technology,” she said.

Some of the caution appears to come down to a could/should balance: Just because you could do something with innovative technology in learning, should you do it?

“Do I want to look at pupil dilation in a kindergartener?” she asked. “If we can focus AI and newer technologies on what we can do to support great teaching and learning, I think that’s a win for kids. It’s a win for learning guardians. It’s a win for society. If we use technologies in a way where we don’t know that they’re going to achieve that, then I wonder why we’re doing it,” she said.

Overall, Woolley-Wilson said she’s very excited about the certain uses of new tech to support students and teachers in schools, such as for advanced predictive analytics to help keep individual kids on track for year-end success. “I think that right now we’re in a heady place for machine learning and AI,” Woolley-Wilson said.

However, she said, “At some point maybe the industry will consider adopting a Hippocratic Oath for learning: First, do no harm.”

“One of the things that frustrates people about K-12 is that it adopts technologies much later than the private sector,” Woolley-Wilson said. “Well, maybe there’s a upside in that; maybe we can make better, more informed decisions about what we should bring to learning.”

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Anti-Zionism Has No Place in the Progressive Movement

Anti-Zionism ghettoizes Jews from the rest of the justice movement, putting a wall around us that separates us from other marginalized people. It cannot be reconciled with any movement striving for inclusivity. It denies us access to solidarity-based movements which should be fighting for equality, for historically oppressed peoples. As American Jewish students return to campus, they should prepare to be challenged academically and intellectually, and should also prepare to challenge movements that don’t respect Zionism and their Jewish heritage.

Self-determination is a human right, and one that for over 2,000 years Jews longed and prayed for. Jews suffered greatly, often catastrophically, while living with the vulnerability of statelessness. We faced violence, discrimination, disenfranchisement, denaturalization, and genocide. The longing for statehood and a return to our indigenous homeland is present throughout our liturgy and texts.

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Photo Of The Day By Alexander Meyer

Today’s Photo Of The Day is “High Above” by Alexander Meyer. Location: Aoraki/Mt. Cook, New Zealand.
Photo By Alexander Meyer

Today’s Photo Of The Day is “High Above” by Alexander Meyer. Location: Aoraki/Mt. Cook, New Zealand.

I spent the summertime on a road trip—in the middle of New Zealand’s winter,” says Meyer. “The image was taken out of a small airplane during a scenic flight around Aoraki/Mt. Cook. Probably the best thing I’ve ever done!”

Photo of the Day is chosen from various OP galleries, including AssignmentsGalleries and the OP Contests. Assignments have weekly winners that are featured on the OP website homepage, FacebookTwitter and Instagram. To get your photos in the running, all you have to do is submit them.

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