The OnePlus 6 may cost $749 for the 256 GB option

Just a few weeks ago, a leak gave us our first idea of what the OnePlus 6 might look like. Today, another leak is giving us a clearer idea of what specs the device might ship with, as well as what it might cost. According to a post on Weibo, a Chinese microblogging site, the OnePlus 6 will feature a 6.2-inch screen, a Snapdragon 845, 8GB of RAM, up 256 GB of storage (64 and 128 GB versions are possible). None of that is particularly suprising, mind you; it’s what we’d expect given current trends and OnePlus’ past releases. More…

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Mark Zuckerberg responds to the Cambridge Analytica scandal

Facebook’s been having a rough week, as news broke recently of a misuse of data it provided to data analysis firm Cambridge Analytica. After days of relative silence from his company, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has responded to the scandal. He opens by ‘fessing up to Facebook’s role in the problem, while in the same breath trying to assure users it was a one-time occurence that couldn’t be repeated: We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you. I’ve been working to understand exactly what happened and how to make sure…

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Going back to the beginning: ‘Magic: The Gathering’ marks 25th birthday with Dominaria

August 5th, 2018, will mark the 25th anniversary of Magic: The Gathering. First published in 1993 by the Renton-based company Wizards of the Coast, Magic is the first and the most successful collectible card game. It was a fad in the 1990s and spawned a horde of imitators, but still has millions of active players to this day. These range from the casual players who are hanging out at your local game store right now to the professionals on the Magic Pro Tour.

To celebrate the game’s imminent birthday, Wizards of the Coast is bringing the Magic universe back to its beginnings with its newest release, Dominaria, a standalone set and the card game’s 78th expansion. (Yeah. Seventy-eight. I feel old, too, right about now.)

Science fiction author Martha Wells (The Murderbot Diaries, The Death of the Necromancer) is the lead writer on Dominaria, which is set shortly after the events of the 75th expansion, Hour of Devastation. In the multiverse of Magic, players and notable characters are “planeswalkers,” magic-users capable of traveling between worlds, and of bringing creatures and objects with them to serve as weapons and servants.

Dominaria was the setting for many of the early Magic sets’ stories, and is considered the Nexus of the Multiverse. The story of this expansion begins with the return of planeswalkers Gideon Jura and Liliana Vess to Dominaria, where they intend to find and kill a demon that holds a contract over Liliana. A short story by Wells, “Return to Dominaria,” is available to read right now on Wizards’s website.

Dominaria features the return of Magic creator Richard Garfield to its design team for the first time since 2011, and marks the introduction of what Wizards is calling the “Three-And-One Set” style of expansions: large sets in the fall, winter, and spring, with a new core set in the summer. This replaces the previous style, the “two-block model,” where expansions typically came out in pairs.

The developers detailed the game’s mechanics in a post today. A big new addition to Dominaria is the introduction of a new kind of enchantment card, called a Saga. Every turn a Saga is in play, it gains a lore counter, and a new chapter in the Saga becomes active when you acquire a matching number of lore counters. When the last effect occurs and the story’s over, the card leaves play.

There’s also a new descriptive term, “historic,” meant to indicate the long history behind Dominaria itself. Specifically labeled historic cards, as well as artifacts and legendaries, are considered historic, and can be affected by a specific class of abilities. Many cards in Dominaria will feature the “kicker” mechanic, where you can opt to pay more to play the card in exchange for boosted effects.

Dominaria‘s pre-release events are scheduled for April 21 and 22, with a full retail release on April 27. Players in Seattle should also clear their calendars in early April for Magic’s Grand Prix Seattle, their first double event of the year.

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Starbucks explores potential use of blockchain tech for ‘bean to cup’ pilot program

Coffee farmer Jerivelieu Ntamfurayinda is shown after making a delivery of coffee cherries to the Dukende Kawa Cooperative in the mountains of Rwanda. (Photo via Joshua Trujillo/Starbucks)

How about a little blockchain with your coffee?

Starbucks is the latest company to consider the use of blockchain technology. The Seattle-based giant announced today that it will start a pilot program with farmers in Costa Rica, Colombia, and Rwanda to develop a new way to track the “bean to cup” journey.

The idea is to ultimately connect coffee drinkers with coffee farmers, who can potentially then take advantage of new financial opportunities.

“We’re taking traceability and trust to the next level,” Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said today at the company’s annual shareholders meeting in Seattle.

Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson (left) smells a Pike Place Roast with two of the company’s employees on stage at the annual shareholders meeting in Seattle. (GeekWire photo / Taylor Soper)

A Starbucks spokesperson said that the company is looking at a “variety of technologies, including blockchain.”

What is blockchain? GeekWire’s guide to this game-changing technology and its vast potential

Blockchain is one of the hottest technologies and something the tech world is eyeing closely. Blockchains are distributed ledgers secured by powerful cryptography algorithms — it is the underpinning for Bitcoin — and could create new types of tech products and services.

“Many years ago, our controls and transactions were all done by paper, and today we are even talking about blockchain technology,” Ronald Peters, executive director of the Costa Rican Coffee Institute (ICAFE), said in a statement. “This shows us that, more than being at the front of every technological advancement, having the information and being flexible and adaptable are important.”

Starbucks, which worked with more than 380,000 coffee bean farms last year, said it will open source the pilot program and share what it learns.

“The promise of connecting coffee farmers to coffee drinkers is an extraordinary leap in transparency and accountability, and it speaks volumes about Starbucks commitment to creating a product that is good for people and for the planet,” Dr. M. Sanjayan, chief executive officer of Conservation International, said in a statement.

Related coverage: 

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Police release video of Uber’s self-driving car hitting pedestrian

One of Uber’s self-driving vehicles outside the company’s facility in Pittsburgh. (GeekWire photo / Taylor Soper)

Tempe Police released video on Wednesday of the deadly crash involving Uber’s self-driving car.

The video shows footage from both inside and outside the vehicle, which hit a woman walking across the middle of a dark street, outside the crosswalk, in Tempe, Ariz. on Sunday evening. The woman, 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, died at the hospital from her injuries.

It’s still difficult to tell who, or what, was at fault. The video shows the Uber operator, who is responsible for taking over in case of a potential self-driving error, looking down at something just before the vehicle struck the woman.

Warning: Viewer discretion is advised. 

Uber pulled its fleet of autonomous cars off the streets of four test cities after the incident, which has sparked intense debate over the future and safety of self-driving cars. The New York Times reported that the incident appears to be the first known death of a person hit by an autonomous vehicle on a public roadway.

“This is the nightmare all of us working in this domain always worried about,” Raj Rajkumar, head of Carnegie Mellon University’s self-driving laboratory, told Axios.

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TLDR: Zuckerberg responds to Facebook scandal, Starbucks ends pay gap, Amazon’s workplace reigns

[Editor’s Note: TLDR is GeekWire’s daily news rundown, hosted by Starla Sampaco. Subscribe to GeekWire on YouTube to catch every episode, check back every weekday afternoon for more, and sign up for TLDR email updates below.]

Starbucks makes major announcements on gender pay equity: During this morning’s annual shareholders’ meeting in Seattle, the coffee company announced that it’s closed the pay gap among all genders and minority groups for its U.S. workforce. On average in the U.S., the pay gap between women and men doing the same or similar work is about 20 percent. The gap for women of color is even greater. The news from Starbucks comes on the same day that Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed the Equal Pay Opportunity Act into law.  Starbucks hopes to share its pay equity principles to help other companies achieve one-hundred percent equity … and pledged to achieve pay equity for its employees outside of the U.S., as well.


Coffee giant moves toward recyclable cups: Starbucks is also in the news for another pledge. The company wants to develop a recyclable coffee cup within the next three years and put $10 million towards the initiative. The current cups are recyclable in some cities — but not all. There is a plastic coating inside each Starbucks cup, which helps keep coffee hot. But this coating makes the cups unrecyclable in some places. This initiative answers the calls of frequent protesters who have called on Starbucks to make cups more sustainable. These groups, and the cup monster mascot, show up at a lot of events, including the last GeekWire Summit, when Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson spoke.


Mark Zuckerberg responds to the latest Facebook scandal: In other news, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell weighed in on the latest Facebook scandal during an AI event hosted by the Washington Post. She criticized Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for his silence following the reports that Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm, illegitimately accessed data from 50 million Facebook users to help President Trump on the campaign trail. Earlier this afternoon, Zuckerberg made his first public statement about the scandal, saying “We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you. I’ve been working to understand exactly what happened and how to make sure this won’t happen again.


Has Amazon changed its ways? Amazon replaced Alphabet, the parent company of Google, as No. 1 on LinkedIn’s top companies list. The list, which was released this morning, features 50 of the “most sought-after employers.” Retaining talent has not always been Amazon’s strong suit. At one point, the company had the second-highest turnover rate among the Fortune 500 and was notorious for its “only the strongest survive” approach. A New York Times article from 2015 portrayed Amazon as a bruising workplace … and depicted  employees crying at their desks. Fast forward to today — and Amazon has grown by hundreds of thousands of people, with an employee count of more than 566,000.


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Allen Institute adds artist-in-residence to interact with scientists and provoke mutual inspiration

Tavares Strachan, right, the new artist-in-residence at the Allen Institute, speaks with a scientist in a lab at the Seattle research facility. (Allen Institute Photo)

It’s well documented that Paul Allen is an art fanatic by way of the museums (Museum of Pop Culture) and endeavors (Seattle Art Fair, Upstream Fest) he has created and supports in Seattle. Now, art is even finding a home at the Allen Institute, the nonprofit research organization the billionaire philanthropist founded to answer big questions in bioscience.

The Institute announced Wednesday that conceptual artist Tavares Strachan has joined the organization as its first artist-in-residence. A news release touted Strachan as a “globally-recognized artist” and said that the 37-year-old Bahamas native “works on a massive scale from space to the arctic to living systems and human design.” He often explores the intersection of art, science, and the environment, “making the unseen visible,” the Institute said.

Strachan currently has an exhibition of his sculpture and collage work at Seattle’s Frye Art Museum called “Always, Sometimes, Never,” which runs through April 15.

At the Allen Institute, he will mingle with and observe scientists across multiple fields, ranging from neuroscience to cell biology to computational modeling.

“It’s a great opportunity to interact with scientists at the cutting edge of technology in their fields,” Strachan said in the release. “Having access to that kind of science just doesn’t happen in regular life. … To me the interest is how we’re the same, not how we’re different.”

Strachan will be on site each month throughout 2018. While aiming to understand how the Institute approaches issues around bioscience, he will also share his knowledge and experience of expressing complex contextual ideas through play and exploration.

Allen Institute artist
(Allen Institute Photo)

“Art and science both rely on design, imagination, and inspiration,” said Tom Skalak, executive director of The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group. “Having a world-class conceptual artist like Tavares at the Institute will allow for mutual exploration of new territory. Tavares is accustomed to crossing boundaries, and has an instinct for direct lines to provocative actions that have produced works of great beauty and reflectiveness.”

The Institute is no stranger to embracing art and showcasing inspiring work throughout its South Lake Union facility, including sculptures, paintings and conceptual art.

At the corner of Mercer Street and 9th Avenue North, for instance, Jaume Plensa’s sculpture “MIRALL” is on display, with two seated figures facing each other, as if in perpetual, silent conversation. Their forms are defined by a skin of letters from eight alphabets – Arabic, Chinese, Greek, Hindi, Hebrew, Japanese, Latin and Russian.

Allen Institute
One half of the sculpture “MIRALL” outside the Allen Institute in Seattle. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

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Today on Jewcy: A new mockumentary about floundering celebrities

Etai Shuchatowitz loves watching documentaries; but he also finds them hilariously self-serious. It’s only natural that he be a fan of mockumentaries, like Comedy Central’s Review. So one day after binge-watching Ken Burns, he decided to write his own documentary spoof series. It’s called Untold Genius and it’s a ten-episode web series on the tragicomic stories of ten celebrities whose careers are on the verge of collapse.

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The Dog That Sieg Heil’ed

The video is only about two and a half minutes long. Mark Meechan, a Scotsman known more commonly by his online name, Count Dankula, speaks to the camera. His girlfriend, he says, goes on and on about her pug, Buddha, and how cute he is. “So I thought I would turn it in to the least cute thing I could think of,” he says, smirking at the camera. “Which is, a Nazi.”

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