How to read fiction to build a startup

“The book itself is a curious artefact, not showy in its technology but complex and extremely efficient: a really neat little device, compact, often very pleasant to look at and handle, that can last decades, even centuries. It doesn’t have to be plugged in, activated, or performed by a machine; all it needs is light, a human eye, and a human mind. It is not one of a kind, and it is not ephemeral. It lasts. It is reliable. If a book told you something when you were 15, it will tell it to you again when you’re 50, though you may understand it so differently that it seems you’re reading a whole new book.”—Ursula K. Le Guin

Every year, Bill Gates goes off-grid, leaves friends and family behind, and spends two weeks holed up in a cabin reading books. His annual reading list rivals Oprah’s Book Club as a publishing kingmaker. Not to be outdone, Mark Zuckerberg shared a reading recommendation every two weeks for a year, dubbing 2015 his “Year of Books.” Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube, joined the board of Room to Read when she realized how books like The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate were inspiring girls to pursue careers in science and technology. Many a biotech entrepreneur treasures a dog-eared copy of Daniel Suarez’s Change Agent, which extrapolates the future of CRISPR. Noah Yuval Harari’s sweeping account of world history, Sapiens, is de rigueur for Silicon Valley nightstands.

This obsession with literature isn’t limited to founders. Investors are just as avid bookworms. “Reading was my first love,” says AngelList’s Naval Ravikant. “There is always a book to capture the imagination.” Ravikant reads dozens of books at a time, dipping in and out of each one nonlinearly. When asked about his preternatural instincts, Lux Capital’s Josh Wolfe advised investors to “read voraciously and connect dots.” Foundry Group’s Brad Feld has reviewed 1,197 books on Goodreads and especially loves science fiction novels that “make the step function leaps in imagination that represent the coming dislocation from our current reality.”

This begs a fascinating question: Why do the people building the future spend so much of their scarcest resource — time — reading books?

Image by NiseriN via Getty Images. Reading time approximately 14 minutes.

Don’t Predict, Reframe

Do innovators read in order to mine literature for ideas? The Kindle was built to the specs of a science fictional children’s storybook featured in Neal Stephenson’s novel The Diamond Age, in fact, the Kindle project team was originally codenamed “Fiona” after the novel’s protagonist. Jeff Bezos later hired Stephenson as the first employee at his space startup Blue Origin. But this literary prototyping is the exception that proves the rule. To understand the extent of the feedback loop between books and technology, it’s necessary to attack the subject from a less direct angle.

David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas is full of indirect angles that all manage to reveal deeper truths. It’s a mind-bending novel that follows six different characters through an intricate web of interconnected stories spanning three centuries. The book is a feat of pure M.C. Escher-esque imagination, featuring a structure as creative and compelling as its content. Mitchell takes the reader on a journey ranging from the 19th century South Pacific to a far-future Korean corpocracy and challenges the reader to rethink the very idea of civilization along the way. “Power, time, gravity, love,” writes Mitchell. “The forces that really kick ass are all invisible.”

The technological incarnations of these invisible forces are precisely what Kevin Kelly seeks to catalog in The Inevitable. Kelly is an enthusiastic observer of the impact of technology on the human condition. He was a co-founder of Wired, and the insights explored in his book are deep, provocative, and wide-ranging. In his own words, “When answers become cheap, good questions become more difficult and therefore more valuable.” The Inevitable raises many important questions that will shape the next few decades, not least of which concern the impacts of AI:

“Over the past 60 years, as mechanical processes have replicated behaviors and talents we thought were unique to humans, we’ve had to change our minds about what sets us apart. As we invent more species of AI, we will be forced to surrender more of what is supposedly unique about humans. Each step of surrender—we are not the only mind that can play chess, fly a plane, make music, or invent a mathematical law—will be painful and sad. We’ll spend the next three decades—indeed, perhaps the next century—in a permanent identity crisis, continually asking ourselves what humans are good for. If we aren’t unique toolmakers, or artists, or moral ethicists, then what, if anything, makes us special? In the grandest irony of all, the greatest benefit of an everyday, utilitarian AI will not be increased productivity or an economics of abundance or a new way of doing science—although all those will happen. The greatest benefit of the arrival of artificial intelligence is that AIs will help define humanity. We need AIs to tell us who we are.”

It is precisely this kind of an AI-influenced world that Richard Powers describes so powerfully in his extraordinary novel The Overstory:

“Signals swarm through Mimi’s phone. Suppressed updates and smart alerts chime at her. Notifications to flick away. Viral memes and clickable comment wars, millions of unread posts demanding to be ranked. Everyone around her in the park is likewise busy, tapping and swiping, each with a universe in his palm. A massive, crowd-sourced urgency unfolds in Like-Land, and the learners, watching over these humans’ shoulders, noting each time a person clicks, begin to see what it might be: people, vanishing en masse into a replicated paradise.”

Taking this a step further, Virginia Heffernan points out in Magic and Loss that living in a digitally mediated reality impacts our inner lives at least as much as the world we inhabit:

“The Internet suggests immortality—comes just shy of promising it—with its magic. With its readability and persistence of data. With its suggestion of universal connectedness. With its disembodied imagines and sounds. And then, just as suddenly, it stirs grief: the deep feeling that digitization has cost us something very profound. That connectedness is illusory; that we’re all more alone than ever.”

And it is the questionable assumptions underlying such a future that Nick Harkaway enumerates in his existential speculative thriller Gnomon:

“Imagine how safe it would feel to know that no one could ever commit a crime of violence and go unnoticed, ever again. Imagine what it would mean to us to know—know for certain—that the plane or the bus we’re travelling on is properly maintained, that the teacher who looks after our children doesn’t have ugly secrets. All it would cost is our privacy, and to be honest who really cares about that? What secrets would you need to keep from a mathematical construct without a heart? From a card index? Why would it matter? And there couldn’t be any abuse of the system, because the system would be built not to allow it. It’s the pathway we’re taking now, that we’ve been on for a while.” 

Machine learning pioneer, former President of Google China, and leading Chinese venture capitalist Kai-Fu Lee loves reading science fiction in this vein — books that extrapolate AI futures — like Hao Jingfang’s Hugo Award-winning Folding Beijing. Lee’s own book, AI Superpowers, provides a thought-provoking overview of the burgeoning feedback loop between machine learning and geopolitics. As AI becomes more and more powerful, it becomes an instrument of power, and this book outlines what that means for the 21st century world stage:

“Many techno-optimists and historians would argue that productivity gains from new technology almost always produce benefits throughout the economy, creating more jobs and prosperity than before. But not all inventions are created equal. Some changes replace one kind of labor (the calculator), and some disrupt a whole industry (the cotton gin). Then there are technological changes on a grander scale. These don’t merely affect one task or one industry but drive changes across hundreds of them. In the past three centuries, we’ve only really seen three such inventions: the steam engine, electrification, and information technology.”

So what’s different this time? Lee points out that “AI is inherently monopolistic: A company with more data and better algorithms will gain ever more users and data. This self-reinforcing cycle will lead to winner-take-all markets, with one company making massive profits while its rivals languish.” This tendency toward centralization has profound implications for the restructuring of world order:

“The AI revolution will be of the magnitude of the Industrial Revolution—but probably larger and definitely faster. Where the steam engine only took over physical labor, AI can perform both intellectual and physical labor. And where the Industrial Revolution took centuries to spread beyond Europe and the U.S., AI applications are already being adopted simultaneously all across the world.”

Cloud Atlas, The Inevitable, The Overstory, Gnomon, Folding Beijing, and AI Superpowers might appear to predict the future, but in fact they do something far more interesting and useful: reframe the present. They invite us to look at the world from new angles and through fresh eyes. And cultivating “beginner’s mind” is the problem for anyone hoping to build or bet on the future.

NBA shows off ‘smart jersey’ concept for high tech sportswear

You could be able to change your future basketball jerseys with the push of a button.
You could be able to change your future basketball jerseys with the push of a button.

Image: Al Bello/Getty Images

Want a new basketball jersey? In the future, it may be as simple as pushing a button.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver showed off a concept for the “NBA jersey of the future” that does just that. Silver, who was speaking at the NBA’s All-Star Technology Summit demoed the futuristic tech, which would let you change the player name and number on your jersey in just a few seconds.

“So hopefully I just put Michael Rubin out of business,” Silver joked, referring to the CEO of online jersey retailer Fanatics. 

It’s not clear exactly how this tech might work, or how far along it might be. Silver used a smartphone app to make the change onstage, according to NBA.com.  Another angle of the demo, captured by Los Angeles Times columnist Arash Markazi, makes it look like the demo was more of a projection than actually-changing jersey.

Novel as it is though, you have to wonder what incentive the NBA has to sell “only one” jersey. 

It also, as a number of NBA fans pointed out, raises all kinds of questions. Does his mean jerseys could be hacked? Are teams just going to use this to squeeze in even more advertising? Wouldn’t this just be abused by annoying bandwagon fans? 

You could also imagine the whole thing going hilariously wrong at the worst possible moment.

In any case, it sounds like changing our jerseys at will could still be a ways off. According to nba.com, the theme of SIlver’s talk was to discuss “what a fully customizable fan experience may look like in the NBA in 2038.”

Just 19 years to go.

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Twitter still keeps archives of your DMs years after you deleted them

Uh-oh, this doesn’t look good.

You know how when you delete a Twitter DM and you’re expecting it to, like, be erased and non-retrievable ever again? Turns out Twitter’s still keeping archives of deleted DMs according to a security researcher who shared his discovery with TechCrunch.

Speaking with TechCrunch, security researcher Karan Saini discovered he was able to retrieve old Twitter DMs he had deleted years ago. 

Saini says he found his old deleted Twitter messages from recipient archive folders belonging to Twitter accounts that were deleted. Twitter lets senders delete their DM messages, but the messages are only deleted from their end and not the recipient’s (and vice versa).

“DMs are never ‘deleted’—rather only withheld from appearing in the UI,” Saini said on Twitter after TechCrunch published the story. “The archive feature lets you view these DMs, as well as any others with now suspended, or deactivated users.”

He was also able to use a now-deprecated Twitter API to recover old direct messages from both the sender and recipient.

Saini’s discovery flies against Twitter privacy policy, which says data is only stored for “up to 30 days after deactivation” to allow users to restore their accounts.

Twitter's privacy policy says data should be deleted after 30 days of deactivating an account.

Twitter’s privacy policy says data should be deleted after 30 days of deactivating an account.

After 30 days, if a user hasn’t restored their account, the data should be gone… for good. Except Saini and TechCrunch’s findings insist this isn’t the case. TechCrunch reporters said they were able to “recover direct messages from years ago — including old messages that had since been lost to suspended or deleted accounts.” One example showed they were able to retrieve deleted messages from 2016.

Mashable has reached out to Twitter for clarification on why the company’s still keeping archives to DMs that were deleted years ago and we’ll update this story if we receive a response.

As it stands, this discovery is another reason to be mindful of the amount of data social media services collect. Social media platforms like Twitter make it easier than ever to share and communicate with others instantly, but the extent of their reach is now being contested. Can you really trust a company that that doesn’t delete your data when you think you’ve deleted it? 

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LG’s V50 ThinQ could be the first 5G phone announced for the U.S.

The LG V40 ThinQ (pictured) might be replaced with a 5G-ready V50 ThinQ.
The LG V40 ThinQ (pictured) might be replaced with a 5G-ready V50 ThinQ.

Image: zlata ivleva/mashable

5G phones — real ones you can actually buy soon — are coming.

OnePlus and Samsung have already pledged to release 5G smartphones sometime in 2019, but LG might beat everyone to launching one first if a newly leaked image of its alleged 5G-ready V50 ThinQ ends up being real.

Phone leaker extraordinaire Evan Blass aka @evleaks published an image of what he claims is the LG V50 ThinQ. 

The successor to the V40 ThinQ will reportedly be one of the first phones capable of connecting faster 5G wireless networks and is likely to be announced at Mobile World Congress on Feb. 24 during LG’s press conference.

The alleged press render reveals quite a bit of information on the yet-to-be-announced phone. Besides a yellow 5G logo on the back and within the status bar on the front, there also appears to be three cameras on the rear. Based on the V40 ThinQ, we can safely assume these will be a regular wide-angle lens, telephoto lens, and ultra-wide lens. One new aesthetic change: the cameras are flush with the body and don’t protrude (yay!).

The front also has dual cameras, which will probably be similar if not identical to the V40 ThinQ’s 8-megapixel standard selfie camera and 5-megapixel ultra-wide selfie camera.

There’s also a rear-positioned fingerprint reader suggesting LG will not follow its competitors with in-display fingerprint readers. Vivo was the first phone maker to release a phone with an in-display fingerprint reader and OnePlus and Huawei both followed by the end of 2018. Samsung is also expected to introduce an in-display fingerprint reader in its upcoming Galaxy S10, which will be announced on Feb. 20 at its Unpacked event in San Francisco.

Android Authority also believes the V50 ThinQ will sport a giant 4,000 mAh battery, which is about 21 percent larger than the 3,300 mAh battery in the V40 ThinQ. That’s good because 5G will be a battery hog until the modems shrink down over time.

The last thing we learned from the image is the likely V50 ThinQ carrier: Sprint. Yes, the fourth-largest U.S. carrier and the only network that’s suing AT&T for misleading consumers with its fake “5GE” branding is  apparently diving into 5G.

LG will most likely reveal everything there is know about the V50 ThinQ at Mobile World Congress (if it doesn’t get leaked before). The biggest question will be: how much? 5G phones could cost as much as $300 more than 4G LTE phones according to OnePlus CEO Pete Lau. Also, how much will 5G data plans cost? They surely won’t be cheap at first.

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LG’s first 5G phone just leaked — here’s the V50 ThinQ

OK, I’m about convinced that Vlad is right — phone manufacturers aren’t even trying anymore. Hot on the heels of learning practically everything Samsung could possibly announce at its Galaxy S10 press conference later this month, including up to five phones and an entire wearables lineup, LG’s new superphone — the LG V50 ThinQ — has just broken cover, and it turns an entire trail of bread crumbs into a remarkably full picture of a phone worth watching for.

We knew that LG was bringing a 5G smartphone to Sprint in the first half of 2019 — and separately, we’d heard that the company might debut its rumored, 5G-equipped V50 superphone alongside the likely-to-be-more-reasonably-priced LG G8 at Mobile World Congress later this month.

But now, prominent phone leaker Evan Blass (@evleaks) has given us what’s almost certainly our full first press pictures of the V50, and it seems those two rumors are one and the same. The LG V50 ThinQ appears to be headed to Sprint, and we should see an announcement on February 24.

Why am I so certain about that date? It’s not just the date teased in the center of the screen, though that’s certainly cute — as Android Authority and others point out, it’s the fact that LG already officially revealed in a Korean press release that its first 5G phone will be unveiled on the 24th as well.

And because that press release officially announced some early details of that phone, it’s probably safe to assume those details will apply to the V50 ThinQ as well — meaning we should expect this phone to come with Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 855 processor, a new (and large, with 2.7 times the surface area) vapor chamber cooling system, and a fairly high-capacity 4,000mAh battery as well.

LG Newsroom

In that release, LG suggested that the battery in particular would help address fears that 5G phones might have lower battery life, which is a pretty dang valid one considering how poor the first 4G LTE phones’ batteries were, and I’m wondering if more capable cooling systems will be a necessity for the first 5G phones as well.

It’s not clear from Blass’s image how thin the LG V50 ThinQ might be or whether it’ll still have a 3.5mm headphone jack, but we can see a few notable features nonetheless — while the inclusion of a rear fingerprint divot might be disappointing for those who are hoping LG migrates to in-display fingerprint sensors, it’s impressive to see that LG may have managed to cram the LG V40’s three rear cameras — wide angle, normal, and telephoto zoom — into a package that lays flat instead of bulging out the back of the phone.

We’ll almost certainly find out more at LG’s event at Mobile World Congress on February 24.

The NBA app-controlled ‘smart jersey’ of the future lets you change your player name and number

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver gave the world a peek at the future of jerseys during this week’s NBA All-Start Technology Summit, an event dedicated to illustrating how technology might advance the sport by 2038.

In addition to mentioning fans gaining entry into games via facial recognition, hologram mascots, and more personalized game experiences, Silver demonstrated the future of jerseys: a piece of smart clothing that can change the name and number displayed on them through a mobile app. Details on how the jersey is made weren’t shared, but it’s a neat, concept and something we haven’t seen before.

You can check out the demo below:

I can’t imagine people wanting to change their jerseys all that often, but I guess if you’re joining the bandwagon during a playoff series or championship game, you might want to rep someone new. Congrats to all fair-weather fans.

Apex Legends players think its in-game items are way too expensive

Respawn’s Apex Legends is a huge hit. The free-to-play battle royale shooter is closing out its second week since release, and it’s still retaining its top spot on the Twitch leaderboards following its successful first e-sports event. Top streamers like Ninja and Shroud continue to play the game on a daily basis, and it’s looking like it could have a healthy life as a top-tier competitive game if Respawn puts the resources into building out a proper tournament structure.

But one element of the game that may affect its long-term popularity is its business model, with many players worried that Apex’s in-game prices are too expensive.

As a free-to-play title, Apex Legends has to generate revenue somehow, and the best way to do that in an online multiplayer game is to borrow concepts from popular titles like Fortnite and Overwatch. That means letting players party real money for character costumes, weapon skins, and various other collectibles that don’t affect gameplay, but make you look cool or unique while you play.

Apex Legends, however, has a particularly aggressive pricing model and an overly complex economy. Now, players are starting to voice concern about how that model could eventually harm its longevity, as more revenue from microtransactions likely translates to a more robust development team, faster updates, and more support from EA.

As it stands, Apex Legends charges as much as $18 for singular weapon and legend skins. That’s more than Epic has charged for all but the rarest Fortnite items, and it’s particularly egregious when you consider that there’s no easy way to play Apex enough to earn any of them in a realistic fashion, at least until Respawn launches its battle pass subscription service next month. For its Valentine’s Days event, Respawn released a character banner — one that only displays at the beginning of a game and in select moments while you’re playing — and a weapon skin that cost $11 each. It’s a particularly frustrating price point, as it requires players buy at least $20 of in-game currency because the next-lowest tier is a $10 bundle.

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Part of the reason behind the focused anger — around a game that is otherwise awash in well-earned praise — is that EA and Respawn have instituted a complicated, multi-currency economy that doesn’t seem to reward you fairly for time spent. You can buy some of those absurdly pricey, $18 items outright by buying Apex Coins, but if you want a chance at earning them on your own, you have a few options and none of them are particularly well designed. You can buy lootbox-style Apex Packs at $1 apiece and hope you get a rare item among the hundreds of throwaway ones like voice lines and profile trackers. Or you can level up to earn an additional separate currency, Legend Tokens, that only let you buy certain items.

Additionally, you can save up enough “scrap” (an entirely separate third currency) that lets you craft some of these items. But the only way to earn scrap is to open Apex Packs, which, again, can only be bought or earned by leveling up. Yet Respawn reduces the frequency you get awarded packs by leveling up the more you play the game, encouraging players to buy them as they become more invested. (Granted, the element here that does affect gameplay, new characters like Mirage and Caustic, can be purchased relatively easily using Legend Tokens.)

The end result of this complex web of currencies and reward mechanisms is a microtransaction system that players are starting to outright reject just two weeks after release. On the dedicated Apex Legends subreddit, which has ballooned to nearly half a million users, a number of multi-thousand-comment threads have popped up this past week addressing the issue. “Respawn, I would not hesitate to impulse purchase $3-5 for cosmetic items. $11-18 though? Will not even consider it,” reads one. “So far, the store seems to be predatory,” reads another.

And as one player put in a top comment on the former of the two threads: “I’m actually glad the cosmetics are so expensive. Makes it really simple to control myself and not buy a shit ton of them.” That may be the center issue at play: Apex Legends’ success depends not just on people finding the game fun and playing it. It also depends on people finding it so enjoyable, and its cosmetic items so worthwhile, that they’ll be willing to spend a healthy chunk of money on it.

Ask a hardcore Fortnite player with deposable income, like yours truly, how much they’ve spent on the game, and it’s likely much more than a standard $60 price tag you’d see on a boxed video game product. But the reason Fortnite generates hundreds of millions of dollars a month is its entirely fair and straightforward economy and its excellent cosmetic designs.

There’s only one currency in the game. Fortnite offers just v-bucks, and those can be earned by buying the $10-per-season battle pass subscription and leveling up. Epic also has clear-cut method for pricing: skins can cost anywhere from $5 to $15, while emotes will never cost more than $8 and often cost either $3 or $5. Even better is Epic’s constant giveaways. The developer runs constant special events where you can play the game, complete challenges, and earn free stuff. Its best deal is a multi-step challenge list released just yesterday that will let players even earn a season 8 battle pass subscription without paying a cent.

Right now, we have no idea how much money Apex Legends is generating, so it’s hard to say that players’ vocal complaints about price tags will have an effect on the game’s earning potential. But it’s safe to say that EA wouldn’t be footing the bill for a free-to-play game of this scale if it didn’t have high hopes it could be a money-generator like Fortnite. That has a slim chance of happening unless some of these pricing schemes change, or in the unlikely event its battle pass is so successful it floats the entire the game.

But it would be a real shame to see Apex Legends stumble because it’s too busy testing the limits on what maximum it can charge per item, when it could be thinking up creative ways to make fans want to spend time and money and support it.

Save 60% off tons of online courses in honor of Presidents Day weekend

Just to let you know, if you buy something featured here, Mashable might earn an affiliate commission.
Learn a new skill with these discounted online courses.
Learn a new skill with these discounted online courses.

Image: Pixabay

Oh Presidents’ Day, the one day of the year when you can score mattresses at rock-bottom prices. We’ve decided to shake things up for 2019 and swap sleepy time for brain fuel: online courses, bundles, and e-learning packages. 

Take your pick from this selection of hot courses and learn something new before Memorial Day comes around.

Haven’t you heard? The world revolves around machine learning and big data now. If you want to get in on the fun, this bundle breaks down the most head-scratch-inducing concepts into digestible lectures, allowing you to gain a deeper understanding of things like TensorFlow, Neural Networks, Clustering In R, and a whole lot more. Lost already?

Grab the bundle today for $14 with coupon code PREZDAY60.

Word on the street is that Amazon Web Services (AWS) pays the bills for their namesake retailer, Amazon (duh). This set of courses will expose you to the inner workings of the popular cloud solution so you can leverage it in your own projects, and maybe use your newly-acquired knowledge as a springboard into a career in cloud computing.

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The hype surrounding Bitcoin may have died down, but that doesn’t mean it’ll stay quiet for long. In the meantime, you’ll want to have the skills to make it big in blockchain. This bundle will not only help you learn to invest and make a profit in cryptocurrency, but you’ll also discover how to build your very own virtual currency.

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It’s no secret that the brain is the most powerful organ in the human body, so it’s only right that you unlock its full potential. This four-pronged course is packed with neurologically-proven strategies that can help you recalibrate your brain to become more focused, productive, and adaptive.

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Get your website on the coveted first page of Google’s search engine with the help of this SEO-centric bundle. Across eight courses and over 200 lectures, you’ll master keyword research, conversion rate optimization, content marketing, leveraging Google Adwords, and a whole lot more.

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Want to learn what makes beautiful and user-friendly websites tick? With this course, you’ll master the fundamentals of User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) design. Through 46 hours of expert instruction, you’ll learn everything from wireframing and designing a responsive website to managing a productive workflow. You’ll even get tips on how to kickstart a freelance career in design.

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Have you always dreamt of becoming a YouTube star? (Don’t worry, your secret is safe with us.) This master class will teach you the secrets to clinching YouTube success. It’s packed with lectures that run the gamut from starting a channel to video production to creating ads. With this training, you’ll acquire the skills to build a veritable brand and make money on the largest video-sharing website in the world.

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There’s never been a better time to make good on your promise of learning how to code. This nine-pronged training package will get you to grips with the most popular programming languages including HTML, CSS, Python, Java, and C++, and guide you through completing drills and projects to consolidating your newly acquired knowledge and skills. By the time you finish, you should have what it takes to embark on a coding career track.

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If you’ve always wanted to dabble in digital design but don’t have the skills to turn your ideas into tangible art, this course covers the creative industry’s top tools — Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator — so you can bring concepts to life. You’ll get to grips with navigating each program and discover how you can use them to fast-track a creative career.

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Hacking is a scary term — but ethical hacking is done by the good guys working to fix security vulnerabilities to create better and stronger digital infrastructure. In this master class, you’ll receive over 180 hours of professional ethical hacking training to gain the skills needed to neutralize cyber threats.

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Created in 1995, Java is a widely-used open-source language that is at the core of the digital products that we enjoy today. That’s why it isn’t a surprise that even decades later, it remains as one of the most popular programming languages around. In this course, you’ll tackle the nuts and bolts of Java so you can build your own collection of web and Android apps.

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From CompTIA A+ to Microsoft 70-740 to Cisco 100-105, this bundle tackles everything you need to know to crush the most essential IT certification exams. Each course is designed to supply you with the know-how to maintain and troubleshoot network infrastructure, as well as give you tips to pass the associated exams with flying colors.

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Social media is where the money is at these days, and if you learn how to leverage it to your advantage, you’ll find that it can do wonders for your business. This bundle, centered around social media marketing, covers the major platforms you need to master — Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and more — as well as techniques on how to convert sales on each one. 

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Boost your project management career with this training bundle that covers the most popular project management methodologies, including Six Sigma and PRINCE2. Across nine courses and 102 hours of premium instruction, you’ll not only get to explore key project management concepts, but you’ll get the training you need to ace the certification exams that will help bolster your résumé.

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The photos you snap do not have to be confined to your Instagram feed. In this 30-hour course, you’ll learn how to capture pictures that deserve to be put up in galleries. From teaching you wedding and street photography to imparting techniques on how to properly edit imagery, you’ll learn just how to produce pictures that pop.

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Like these deals? Check out this trending digital security subscription, too!

Here are the best Presidents’ Day 2019 deals

In the US, Presidents’ Day is on Monday, February 18th. Banks will be closed as will some other stores and institutions, so check before you make the trek out if you have the day off. The biggest retailers, like Best Buy, Walmart, and Target, are all on the clock, though, and we’re seeing some of the best deals of the year from them.

Some of the price cuts begin on Monday or even Tuesday in some cases, but there are a lot of sales that you can take advantage of right now. We’ll be updating this post when a deal you should know about goes live.

Phones and accessories

Tablets, PCs, and accessories

Gaming

TVs and home theater

Wearables

Misc.

Apple’s ‘AirPods 2’ might come in a stealthier black color

AirPods only come in white, but that could change soon.
AirPods only come in white, but that could change soon.

Image: lili sams/mashable

Since AirPods launched in late 2016, people have begged Apple to release them in a color other than white.

After years, Apple might finally cave in to everyone’s wishes. The latest rumor suggests Apple launch the second generation of its AirPods, tentatively called “AirPods 2,” in black.

According to the Economic Daily News (via AppleInsider), Apple’s supply chain has already started mass producing AirPods 2 in black as well as the AirPower wireless charging mat that has been delayed several times because of engineering challenges.

In addition to the black finish, the report also corroborates a separate report that said the AirPods 2 will sport a new, grippier coating on each earbud. 

The Taiwanese report made no mention of any new features that would be exclusive to AirPods 2, but many rumors suggest the wireless earbuds will come with a hands-free “Hey Siri” mode so users don’t need to tap the side of the right AirPod.

It’s also believed Apple could include new sensors inside of the AirPods to better monitor your health. Companies like Samsung have included heart rate monitors inside of their true wireless earbuds to gather health data for fitness.

No photos of the alleged black AirPods 2 or its case have leaked yet, but if you want to get an idea of what they might look like, YouTuber Jonathan Morrison created a custom black pair:

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Another YouTuber, Amanda Woolsey, created a pair of custom matte black AirPods:

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As you can see, they look super slick. If you’re not a fan of white buds sticking out of your ears, black ones would be more inconspicuous. Based on the reports, the AirPods 2 could be a mixture of glossy and matte finish.

It’s unclear when AirPods 2 will come out. Gadget leaker @OnLeaks said they might not come out until the fall, but others believe Apple could slip it under the radar at its rumored March 25 event that’s expected to focus on a new subscription-based news service.

But black AirPods! Please be true!

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