Furbo Dog Camera review: The best way to keep an eye on your dog from work

Easy to use • Made of durable plastic • Bamboo lid tightly secures treats • Launching treats is fun!
Can’t pan or move the camera • Expensive for a dog accessory
Although $249 is a lot to spend on a dog toy, we think it’s fun and useful enough to justify. Everyone enjoys launching treats from this device.

Mashable Score4.5

We’ve all been there before: You’re about to leave for work, and the family dog follows you to the door, watching through the window as you enter your car and leave. But what if you could keep a watchful eye on your dog the entire day — even from your office?

The Furbo Dog Camera enables just that. The device is roughly the size of a small flower vase, and lets you livestream audio and video directly from your home to anywhere in the world with an internet connection (and, of course, the right password).

It’s not cheap at $249.99, but it does come with the added bonus of letting you launch dog treats to your pup remotely. So, in short, you can keep tabs on your pooch and also reward them for good behavior from anywhere in the world. Pretty neat, right?

But is it enough to justify its hefty price tag? My family and I spent the last two weeks testing the Furbo Dog Camera thoroughly to see whether it was worth it. Here’s what we found:

Meet Georgia

The pup herself.

The pup herself.

Image: jake krol/mashable

Everyone, meet Georgia, my family’s toy poodle that lives in New Jersey. She’s a very good dog, and she’s been getting a firsthand account of how the Furbo works along with all of her owners: me, my mom, my dad, and my brother.

We’ve been using the Furbo Dog Camera to check on Georgia throughout the day for about two weeks, and when any of us are feeling inspired, we shoot treats to her from the machine.

I’ll admit: I typically send her the most treats because, first of all, it’s really fun, and secondly, she’s a very good dog (as I mentioned) and deserves the absolute best. I’ve been sending her about four treats per day, and I’m pretty sure she has no idea it’s me behind the launcher, but she certainly seems to enjoy the snacks.

A dog-friendly design

Thanks to a simple design, you won't have trouble finding a spot for the Furbo.

Thanks to a simple design, you won’t have trouble finding a spot for the Furbo.

Image: ZLATA IVLEVA/MASHABLE

The Furbo Dog Camera blends into almost any room. It’s about 9-inches tall and has a modern, sleek, hourglass shape — with a wide base at the bottom and a tiny pinch in the middle.

You’ll notice there’s a large bamboo lid at the top of the device, and that’s to cover up the small reservoir where the treats are stored. The plastic material that covers most of the machine is extremely durable — even if you have a skittish dog that attacks foreign objects. 

When we first introduced the Furbo to our dog Georgia, she quickly began pawing at the machine and scratching it. We were immediately surprised by the durability of the machine when it fell, and by how well the bamboo cap stayed attached.

Still, we know there are lots of crafty dogs out there, so if you own a very persistent puppy who loves treats and can sniff them out easily — you might want to consider how they would react to what is essentially a robotic cookie jar. If you’re confident that your dog wouldn’t gnaw on the lid for hours, you’re probably safe.

Setup is incredibly easy

Furbo recommends round circular treats. Anything smaller and it might send out more than one.

Furbo recommends round circular treats. Anything smaller and it might send out more than one.

Image: ZLATA IVLEVA/MASHABLE

The Furbo Dog Camera couldn’t be much easier to setup. It’s practically plug-and-play. Once you plug in the device, you’ll need to use the companion app to get it connected to your WiFi.

The setup process takes about 15 minutes total. I had to restart the app a couple of times to get it connecting properly, but shortly thereafter it was working just fine. It’s comparable to any other smart home device that uses an app to function. The app will walk you through every step of the process.

Once the device is connected to the internet, the last thing you need to do is load the treat reservoir with tiny dog treats. Furbo recommends using round circular ones, and warns owners that other shapes can sometimes send out more than one. My family used Charlee Bear dog treats from Trader Joes, which worked really well. Furbo recommends using Nutro Mini Bites among others. 

After the treats are loaded into the machine, and it’s connected to the internet — that’s it! You’ll see live streaming video on the app’s home screen, and you can begin launching treats at your puppy.

Endless entertainment

Refill times will vary depending on how frequently you shoot treats.

Refill times will vary depending on how frequently you shoot treats.

Image: ZLATA IVLEVA/MASHABLE

Some dogs may love the Furbo right away, but Georgia was not one of those dogs. She’s a little skittish at times, and was very skeptical of the Furbo when it first arrived.

I spent about an hour sitting with Georgia and getting her familiar with the device. This included launching treats from it, and getting her used to some of the small (but audible) noises it makes.

The device plays a sound every time it launches a treat, and one of the cooler things is that you can customize the sound. So, if you have a phrase that you always say to your dog, you can make the Furbo say that. Pretty cool!

Testing this product was ultimately a lot of fun, and something I really enjoyed messing around with. Most of that is because of the iOS and Android apps are so well-built. They’re extremely intuitive, and easy to use. My parents even commented on how fun it was to check on Georgia during the work day.

The companion app is super basic, and that works to the benefit of the user. When you first launch it, you’ll be asked to add details about your dog like name, birthday, breed, and gender and upload a photo. You’re not required to add any of this information, but it makes the app slightly to look at every time you launch it.

Https%3a%2f%2fvdist.aws.mashable.com%2fcms%2f2018%2f11%2f783285fb f440 9e37%2fthumb%2f00001

From that point on, every time you open the app, you’ll see a live video feed into your home. The viewing screen is incredibly clear and minimalistic. A camera and video button on the left-hand side allow you too easily snap a shot or quick video that saves to your phone. 

There is also a microphone button on the right side of the display that lets you talk to your dog in real-time with the speaker embedded on the device. Of course, being able to launch treats is the best part of using the app, and you do that by simply moving your finger across the screen with an upwards swipe.

For more dedicated users, there is Furbo Dog Nanny or a premium subscription service the company is piloting. The service detects things like when your dog is barking, when people enter the room, or when there’s other unusual activity happening in front of the camera.

Never worry again

You won't be disappointed with the Furbo Dog Camera.

You won’t be disappointed with the Furbo Dog Camera.

Image: ZLATA IVLEVA/MASHABLE

Listen, I know $249 is a lot on paper, but the Furbo Dog Camera is totally worth it. Throughout my two-week testing period, I’ve been able to check in on our family dog Georgia while I’m out on the town or at work. Same goes for my mom, dad, and brother. The app can handle multiple logins at once, and it’s extremely easy to use. It helps that it only has a couple of core functions.

I’ll admit, it took some time for our dog Georgia to get used to the treat launcher, and the light mechanical noises it makes as it prepares to launch a treat. And she was also a little rattled when we used the intercom feature to talk to her from the device. But over time, she’s become accustomed to the device — and seems to understand when the treat mechanism has been activated.

So even with the short learning curve taken into consideration, the Furbo Dog Camera is a great addition to any pet-owner’s home.

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10 super cool holiday gifts on sale this weekend

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Image: Zivix

Hoping to land on someone’s nice list this holiday season? We’ve got just the ticket, with deets on ten of the coolest gifts we’re loving right now, all of which you can snag in the Mashable Shop. (Don’t forget to enter our exclusive coupon code at checkout to save an extra 15% — more on that below!)

Only 10% of people who take guitar lessons keep playing beyond their first year with the hobby — are you among them? With the Jamstik+, you can be. Featuring real-time feedback, interactive games, and a helpful companion smartphone app, it’s never been easier (or more entertaining) to learn how to pick and pluck like a pro.

We usually offer the Jamstik+ for $279.99, but for a limited time, you can snag it for only $269.99 plus an extra 15% off using the coupon code MERRY15. 

Capable of flying up to 20 miles per hour — even in windy conditions — thanks to some powerful propellers and self-stabilization tools, the PowerUp X FPV is the mother of all paper airplanes. It even includes its own wide-angle camera that connects to an app so you can see exactly what it sees in real time. 

Normally sold for $119.99 (a $139.99 value), you can pick up the PowerUp X FPV for just $79.95 plus an extra 15% off when you enter the coupon code MERRY15 at checkout.

If only Frank Costanza had one of these relaxing bead-weighted blankets. Achieve “serenity now” with the Serenity Sleep System, a soft, 15-pound blanket that mimics a comforting hug, releasing oxytocin into your system to help you get a better night’s sleep.

A $209 value, you can score an extra 15% off a Serenity blanket by entering the code MERRY15 when you check out.

Featuring patented Laundry Compression Technology® that packs your clothes up tight, plenty of storage pockets, and an expandable zipper that provides up to 25% more space for your belongings, the latest edition of the award-winning Genius Pack certainly lives up to its name.

Valued at $298, Mashable readers can purchase the Genius Pack for only $179 plus an extra 15% off when they use the coupon code MERRY15.

Cutting-edge technology meets vintage pizzazz in the form of the 5W Lofree QTV Wireless Speaker. Its highlights include a timer, a customizable alarm, Bluetooth capabilities, an embedded 40mm full frequency and backward speaker, and the ability to play up to five hours of tunes on a single charge. 

Valued at $119, you can pick up a Lofree QTV for just $99 plus an additional 15% off with the code MERRY15.

Get your beloved betta out of that pathetic bowl and into the modern EcoQube C Aquarium, a setup that makes life easier for both you and Flounder with a built-in, self-cleaning aquaponics system. Just plant an herb or two in its top compartment to keep its water fresh — no filter-changing required. 

Valued at $169.99, we’ve lowered the EcoQube’s price to just $99.99, which you can lower even further by entering the coupon code MERRY15 at checkout.

The CINEMOOD is an ingenious mini projector that adds a dash of portability to your entertainment experience. As a standalone gadget that doesn’t require an outlet, phone, or computer to work, it allows you to watch your favorite movies and shows from anywhere without any hassle whatsoever. 

A $399 value, you can snag the CINEMOOD in the Mashable Shop for only $349 plus an extra 15% off when you enter the code MERRY15 at checkout.

You can’t technically roast any chestnuts on it, but the Fireside Audiobox is a rad gift nonetheless: It syncs up to your phone wirelessly and matches the beats of your songs to dancing flames — yes, real flames. Let’s see your current sound system do that.

A $549 value, the Fireside Audiobox is currently on sale for $399, a price you can lower by an additional 15% using the code MERRY15 when you check out.

You’ll be swiftly crowned the World’s Greatest Friend/Parent/Aunt/Uncle/Secret Santa when you gift someone with Neva Tech’s HD Wireless Microscope. Sure to impress, it’s a Wi-Fi-enabled camera that magnifies items up to 1,000 times while live-streaming your findings to your phone. 

We usually offer the microscope for $79.99 (a $299.99 value), but for a limited time you can pick one up for just $59.99 plus an extra 15% off using the coupon code MERRY15.

Few gifts will make a recipient yell “THIS IS SO FREAKING COOL” with such disarming gusto as the Nix Pro Color Sensor, a compact gadget that matches the hue of any item you place it upon. Plus, once you scan a color, you can save it to your smartphone or tablet and match it to thousands of existing color libraries. 

Valued at nearly $350, you can buy the Nix Pro Color Sensor for just $249 plus an additional 15% off when you enter MERRY15 at checkout.

Run your family life, all from one app? Cozi promises you can

Welcome to Small Humans, an ongoing series at Mashable that looks at how to take care of – and deal with – the kids in your life. Because Dr. Spock is nice and all, but it’s 2018 and we have the entire internet to contend with.


Modern life in general can often be a logistical nightmare, but adding kids to the mix takes domestic air traffic control to a whole new level. The premise of an app built with precisely this use-case in mind may seem like a godsend for any Gcal-overloaded caregiver, but Cozi, which bills itself as an app that can “simplify” family life, also runs the risk of contributing to the problem it attempts to solve. 

If you’re just about getting by with to do lists and gCal, do you really need a family organizer app in your life? Is the learning curve worth the end result? Join us as we take a tour of Cozi, try out its features, and test its functionality. 

Whether it’s the right app for you and your family will depend on how many other services you already use and whether you want all your options in one place – and are willing to accept trade-offs for that convenience. 

No free lunch

Cozi is a free service, but the cost of this is agreeing to allow Cozi’s parent company Meredith Corporation to use tracking technologies to show you personalized advertising while you’re using the app and website. 

If you don’t want to opt into this, you can choose to upgrade to a Cozi “Gold” account. This costs $29.99 per year for the entire family across all devices. Paying up kills the ads and gives you access to “premium” features. 

These premium features include a Birthday Tracker tool, a monthly scrolling view in the calendar on mobile, the ability to set multiple (rather than just one) reminders for appointments, the ability to import and manage a Contacts area, notifications of changes to calendar events and an improved “Shopping Mode” in the Lists section. Free features include the calendar, shopping lists, to-do lists,  a meal planner and recipes folder, and a journal functionality.

Getting started

We initially set up the free version of Cozi on desktop, preferring a larger screen and “proper” keyboard to do so, but there’s no reason you can’t get started straight from the app. It’s available on the App Store and Google Play.  

As you sign up you need to give your family a name and chose a shared password that all Cozi users in your family will use. You can also select a family photo (but sadly no individual photos for each family member). 

Once you’ve created your Cozi family, it’s time to start populating the service with your information. We’re taking a look at each free Cozi feature in detail. 

To Do Lists

If you’re the type that swears by a good old-fashioned “To Do” list being the crucial key to an organized life, you’re going to love Cozi’s offering. 

You can create one shared family to do list, separate lists for the adult users, or lists under headings of your choosing, such as “Household To Do,” or “Work To Do.” The lists you create can either be shared with everyone, or assigned to one user.  

On both the website and apps, creating and managing lists is simple. On the website, you access your “To Do” via the left-hand navigation, while on the app it’s via the “Lists” icon at the bottom of the screen.

Simply click to add to the lists, then you can drag and drop to prioritize tasks. 

If you really want to drill down into organizing your to-dos even further, you can group tasks into headings. Headings are created by typing a list item in all capital letters. 

Furthermore, you can add tasks to your Cozi calendar by typing a date — in MM/DD format — before the task’s name. This will then appear as a task on your calendar on the appropriate day.

Once a task has been completed, you can cross it off the list, then keep your list tidy by hitting the “Remove” option on the website then “Remove crossed off items,” or by hitting the three dot menu at the top right on the app to chose to “”Delete checked” items.  

Shopping Lists and Meals 

Cozi’s “Shopping” section doesn’t offer any major bells and whistles, but is a good solid list creation tool. 

Accessed via the left-hand navigation on web, or via “Lists” at the bottom of the screen on the app, these lists work similarly to those in the To Do section, letting you add items by clicking or tapping. 

Your “Groceries” is the most obvious shopping list to create, and Cozi offers nifty auto-suggestion functionality so that possible items are shown in a drop-down list as you begin typing an item making for quick list creation. 

The “Meals” section within Cozi has boasts a comprehensive suite of tools for saving your own recipes, food inspiration and ideas. There’s also a meal planning feature that’s linked to your Cozi calendar and shopping lists. 

The Meal Planner helps organize family meals and lets other members of the family know what’s on the menu. You simply enter your food choice in the slot for the appropriate day and it will then appear on your shared calendar.

We don’t see all Cozi families using the “breakfast” or “lunch” slots every day, but the “dinner” planning functionality will prove very handy for many a busy parent.  

More usefulness comes when in a recipe card (that you can add to the app via URL or entering it manually) – if you tap the calendar icon, you can add the recipe to your meal planner and therefore calendar. 

In the “Recipe Box” section, when you create your own recipe cards, there is the ability to add notes to recipes as well as create tag words to help categorize your cards. 

Cozi offers a neat browser extension that lets you quickly add recipes you see online to your Cozi Meals section. Available for Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox and Chrome, the “Add to Cozi Meals” tool will save down recipes you like the look of quickly and easily. To find these extensions, go to the “Tips” tab at the top of the page when in the Meals section. 

Beyond just planning what to cook, there’s the ability to add a recipe’s ingredients to your “Groceries” (or alternative) shopping list. Simply click “Add to Shopping” when in a recipe card and you’ll get the option to add those ingredients to your lists. 

What all this clever functionality means in real-life context, is that parents or caregivers who are splitting the cooking vs. the grocery run have a relatively smooth way to make sure all the items needed for dinner actually make it on to the list.

Journal 

Another extra that sets Cozi apart from more basic rival offerings is the “Journal” feature. 

This could potentially be used as a digital diary, but Cozi’s intention is that you create an online scrapbook of family moments that can be shared just among your immediate Cozi family, or with wider family and friends. 

To access your Cozi journal on desktop, simply look to the left-hand menu. On the app, the Journal can be found under the Family tab at the bottom of your screen. 

On the website, you create new Journal entries by clicking “Jot down a moment.” In the app, it’s via the plus icon to “Add story.” You can select photos (sadly, not video) from your computer or phone camera roll and add text. The date will default to the day you add the content, although you can manually change it to an alternative date.  

Once you’ve created an entry, you can easily start to share your family moments. On the website, select “Share our journal.” This takes you through the process to share your content with others through a few different methods. 

You can email your journal or share it via a custom URL that anyone, not just Cozi users, can view. The URL can be something easy to remember like “http://family.cozi.com/yourfamilynames.” However, if privacy is important to you, then Cozi will generate a random string of characters for your family’s URL that’s impossible for anyone you don’t share the link with to guess.

There are also further privacy options to consider. You can hide your children’s names in the photos’ captions. The example Cozi gives is by opting in to this functionality, “Today Henry had a great day at the park,” will show to others as “Today H had a great day at the park.” 

The online journal isn’t the prettiest looking service, but it’s the content your family and friends are going to be interested in, and Cozi certainly delivers the functionality that shares it.  

It is worth noting though, that you cannot download your Journal data in the event you decide to stop using Cozi, so it’s a good idea to ensure the images, etc, that you share via the Journal functionality are backed up elsewhere. 

Deleting your Cozi account will permanently delete your account data – everything from photos to recipes to calendar entries. In some way it’s comforting to know your data will truly be gone, but since Cozi is a service that duplicates and combines many other services you likely already use, it may deter some people from signing up if you you know all your effort is gone if you change your mind.

Calendar 

The calendar is the heart of the Cozi service and as such it’s a fully featured and intuitive tool. The first thing you’ll notice is how you can use everyday language to create calendar entries.

On the website, this means typing “7:30 Theatre tomorrow,” for example, will add that event for the following day. Entering an event then typing “every weekday” or “every Wednesday” will create recurring entries.  

The default setting is for all family members to attend events, but if you start your entry with names, it will add the event as just the named family members attending, e.g., “Jane/John Ballet 11.00-11.45 Sat.”

Alternatively, if you double click on a day, a pop-up window will appear which you can populate with appointment information. On mobile, you add new entries via the plus sign icon at the top right of the page. 

As you create calendar content, you can select who gets reminder notifications, add locations and notes. Different family members get a different colored dot, so you can more easily see who is doing what and when. You can click to view the calendar for all, some, or just one family member. 

Another super useful feature is that Cozi can send you, and any other family member with an email address, emails with your family’s calendar events. You can choose to get these agenda-style emails every day, once a week, or both.

Finally, it’s worth noting that the Cozi calendar can be integrated with other calendar services such as Google and Apple Calendar and Outlook. Cozi offers full, detailed instructions of how to share appointments from other calendars to Cozi or share appointments from Cozi to another calendar program in a read-only format. 

It’s a simple process, albeit one that has to be done on web. To see your Google Calendar data in your Cozi calendar for example you simply open gCal, hit the “Settings” cog icon, select your calendar under the “Settings for my calendars” header on the left of your screen, then again on the left, click “Integrate calendar” then copy the long URL that appears on the right under “Secret address in iCal format.”

Now, head back to your Cozi calendar online, click “Set up,” then “Internet calendars,” then “Add an internet calendar” then paste the URL in the box. 

From now on you’ll see your Google Calendar entries in your Cozi calendar. 

Cozi or no?

If you already use an online calendar, a to do list app and have digitized your recipe collection, then getting Cozi to pull it all into one place is a no-brainer. The integration between the to do lists, recipes, shopping lists and calendar is pretty seamless and could make life a lot easier for busy parents. 

Another area where Cozi comes into its own is the sharing functionality. If you are co-parenting, having this app and website as a central resource that you can both update and refer to anytime, anywhere is truly useful. 

There’s no such thing as a miracle cure for how manically busy, stressful and crazily chaotic modern family life is, but using Cozi should go some way towards being a tonic to help. 

Read more great stories from Small Humans: 

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20 brilliant stocking stuffers, all on sale for less than $20

Just to let you know, if you buy something featured here, Mashable might earn an affiliate commission.

Image: Mashable Photo COmposite

When Ariel sang about “gadgets and gizmos aplenty,” she was referring to all the rad stocking stuffers that just went on sale in the Mashable Shop. (Trust us on this one.)

For a limited time, you can save an extra 15% on the following gifts under $20 by entering the coupon code MERRY15 at checkout. Happy shopping!

Made out of silicone shaped like the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs, these geeky ice molds are so cool, even Sheev Palpatine would love ’em. Normally $14.99, you can buy a two-pack for only $9.99.

Considering the fact that snoring affects approximately 37 million of us on a regular basis, there’s a decent chance you know at least one person who could benefit from these anti-storing straps. (Your log-sawing significant other, perhaps?) Normally $39.98, you can buy a set of two for just $12.99.

Weatherproof, TSA-approved, and completely non-toxic, the plasma beam-powered Saberlight is basically the lighter of the future. Normally $99.99, you can buy one on sale for only $15.95.

Any tech gift you give this holiday season should come with this durable cable, which includes USB to Lightning, USB Type-C, and micro USB connections for fast, clutter-free charging. Normally $29.99, you can buy one on sale for only $9.99.

You’ll never find a more portable stand than the multifunctional FODI, a paper-thin yet ultra-strong stand that supports your phone, laptop, or tablet with ease and folds away when you don’t need it. Normally $19.99, you can buy one now for only $14.99.

Available in neon blue, red, and green hues, this three-foot-long, MFi-Certified charging cable lights up when in use to help you find your device in the dark. Normally $49.99, you can buy one now for just $19.99.

Throw out that tree-shaped doohickey hanging from your rearview mirror and replace it with this far more effective car air purifier, whose built-in ionizer eliminates odors and pollutants while removing allergens. Normally $89, you can buy one now for only $19.99.

Its incorporation of versatile military bungee technology makes the BOOMR the most comfortable, user-friendly camera strap out there. Normally $39.99, you can buy one now for just $14.99.

Perfect for the Secret Santa who keeps losing their keys or wallet, the Nut Mini Tracker tells you exactly where your valuables are at any given time with the help of a companion smartphone app. Normally $19.99, you can buy one now for only $14.99.

Finding your best side has never been easier than with the Megaverse iPhone case, which features a nano-suction surface area that allows it to stick to virtually any surface. Normally $19.99, you can buy one now for just $14.

Take your mid-scrub serenades to the next level with this waterproof Bluetooth speaker, which syncs to your smartphone so you can listen to all your favorite playlists in the shower. Normally $49.99, you can buy one now for only $9.99.

Stop neglecting your headphones (while making a mess of tangled cords on your desk) and start storing them properly with the flexible Anchor, which mounts under any table for convenient organization. Normally $19.99, you can buy one now for just $9.99.

From the makers of the world’s first toilet bowl nightlight comes this light-up loofah, which features a color-changing, motion-activation neon light that makes for all sorts of bath time fun. Normally $19.99, you can buy one now for only $14.99.

Featuring a built-in tilt mechanism for optimal viewing and a cradle-less design that doesn’t scratch your phone, the Sinji is a welcome alternative to the bulkiness and clunkiness of traditional car mounts. Normally $29, you can buy one now for only $17.99.

Picking up the latest iPhone at some point over the holidays? You’ll also want to snag this silicone case, whose streamlined designed is surprisingly strong. Normally $39.99, you can buy one now for only $14.99.

Give a pal the gift of a clean eating experience with these brilliantly designed chopsticks, which stay germ-free by keeping their tips up when you set them down. Normally $15, you can buy a set now for only $11.99.

Upgrade your smartphone’s camera with this triple-feature lens kit, which includes fish-eye, macro, and wide-angle lenses that make for totally unique shots. Normally $19.99, you can buy one now for just $9.99.

Way quieter than similar spinners, the Orbiter Fidget Toy is designed to keep your hands comfortably occupied without annoying everyone else around you. Normally $39.99, you can buy one now for just $16.99.

Thanks to its tinplate interior, TPE jacket exterior, and wrapped internal wires, this lil’ guy can bend more than 30,000 times without breaking. Normally $18.99, you can buy one today for only $10.99.

Blow your Instagram followers’ minds with shots taken using this snap-on telephoto smartphone lens, which captures teeny details in amazing clarity. Normally $49.99, you can buy one now for just $12.99.

How Kevin Hart tweeted himself out of a job hosting the Oscars

Kevin Hart is a popular comedian and actor who, until Friday morning, was scheduled to be the host of the 2019 Academy Awards. And he still would be the host of the 2019 Academy Awards, had he not violated one of the sacrosanct rules of life online: never tweet.

Shortly after he was named host, BuzzFeed’s Michael Blackmon reviewed some of the tweets that Hart was frantically deleting:

“Yo if my son comes home & try’s 2 play with my daughters doll house I’m going 2 break it over his head & say n my voice ‘stop that’s gay,’” read a 2011 tweet that Hart deleted sometime on Wednesday or Thursday.

Benjamin Lee, an editor at the Guardian, was one of the first to point out Hart’s old tweets following the Oscars announcement. “I wonder when Kevin Hart is gonna start deleting all his old tweets,” Lee tweeted, adding screenshots from some of Hart’s since-deleted tweets in which he said someone looked like “a gay bill board for AIDS” and called another person a “FAT FAG.”

Hart’s anti-gay ideology wasn’t exactly a secret before now. As Lee noted in a piece for the Guardian, Hart devoted part of a 2010 stand-up special to describing his terror that his son would turn out to be gay — and his intention to prevent it however he could. (“I’m not homophobic,” Hart added.)

And after the year that Hollywood has had, you might think the academy might have done a Twitter search before naming its host. It was barely three months ago that James Gunn, the high-profile director of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, was fired amid a spurious campaign to link him to pedophilia over 2010-era Twitter jokes.

Given a choice of apologizing or doubling down on being an anti-gay idiot, Hart chose the latter, Brian Raftery reported in Wired:

In an Instagram post from that morning, Hart appeared bratty, defensive, and completely dismissive of the growing pushback (he also seemed kind of drowsy, possibly because he filmed it from a bed). “Our world is becoming beyond crazy,” Hart complained, “and I’m not gonna let the craziness frustrate me … if you don’t believe people change, grow, evolve as they get older, [then] I don’t know what to tell you.” In the accompanying caption, he wrote, “If u want to search my history or past and anger yourselves with what u find that is fine with me. I’m almost 40 years old and I’m in love with the man I am becoming.”

Apparently, in Hart’s world, it’s OK for a man to love a man — as long as that man is yourself.

Obviously Hart’s brief tenure as Oscar host-to-be is a dumb story that we all will have forgotten about by happy hour tonight. But it reminded me of a good essay about Twitter behavior that I saw recently on Motherboard: “The internet doesn’t need civility, it needs ethics,” by communications professors Whitney Phillips and Ryan M. Milner.

In the piece, the professors encourage us to think about Twitter as an ecosystem in which users have varying degrees of “biomass” (followers).

In biology, biomass pyramids chart the relative number or weight of one class of organism compared to another organism within the same ecosystem. For a habitat to support one lion, the biomass pyramid shows, it needs a whole lot of insects. When applied to questions of online toxicity, biomass pyramids speak to the fact that there are far more everyday, relatively low-level cases of harmful behavior than there are apex predator cases—the kinds of actions that are explicitly and wilfully harmful, from coordinated hate and harassment campaigns to media manipulation tactics designed to sow chaos and confusion.

Phillips and Milner argue that the collective bad behavior of the insects is at least as important to the overall health of Twitter as that of the lions;

This bottom strata includes posting snarky jokes about an unfolding news story, tragedy, or controversy; retweeting hoaxes and other misleading narratives ironically, to condemn them, make fun of the people involved, or otherwise assert superiority over those who take the narratives seriously; making ambivalent inside jokes because your friends will know what you mean (and for white people in particular, that your friends will know you’re not a real racist); @mentioning the butts of jokes, critiques, or collective mocking, thus looping the target of the conversation into the discussion; and easiest of all, jumping into conversations mid-thread without knowing what the issues are. Regarding visual media, impactive everyday behaviors include responding to a thread with a GIF or reaction image featuring random everyday strangers, or posting (and/or remixing) the latest meme to comment on the news of the day.

Unfortunately, the authors’ proposed solution basically boils down to “be nicer” — great advice, but unlikely to be heeded at scale. Still, it’s worth thinking about — especially for someone like me, who enjoys both posting snarky jokes about unfolding news stories and making ambivalent inside jokes because my friends will know what I mean.

Anyway, I thought of the piece in relation to Hart because his tweets showed him to be a lion eating insects — using his enormous platform to go after a large and harmless group of people who are just trying to live! Talk about punching down.

I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if Twitter had been monitoring the accounts of lions like his for ugly anti-gay slurs eight years ago. Perhaps he could have learned his lesson then, and hosted the Oscars in 2019.

As it is, the show is much better off without him.

Democracy

Google Hearing to Preview Democrats’ Strategy on Big Tech

Cecilia Kang and Daisuke Wakabayashi say we should watch next week’s hearing with Sundar Pichai for signs of how the Democrats intend to wield their new powers in the House of Representatives:

The hearing will provide an early glimpse of how Democrats plan to approach Silicon Valley giants in the coming year as they assume control of the House of Representatives. And the testimony from Mr. Pichai, who is appearing before lawmakers after initially resisting, may provide clues about how he and the company will approach them.

Democratic lawmakers, angry about Russian misinformation online during the 2016 campaign and concerned about the expanding influence of tech’s biggest companies, are expected to target the industry in the next Congress. Some have already raised concerns about potential antitrust and privacy violations, showing more willingness than Republicans to regulate an industry viewed as an engine of economic growth.

Crowdfunding site Patreon is purging far-right figures

Patreon is removing more high-profile far-right figures from the service, David Gilbert reports:

The accounts of British conspiracy theorist YouTuber Carl Benjamin, better known as Sargon of Akkad, and U.S. far-right political commentator James Allsup, were removed Thursday.

The ban will be a particular blow for Benjamin, who was earning more than $12,000 a month from the crowdfunding site.

Cambridge Analytica’s administrators misled judge, High Court told

Here is an extremely dense story about a hearing today on the dissolution of Cambridge Analytica. Honestly it is so dense that I can’t tell you what it means, but it felt important that I note the hearing happened here for posterity. A gold star and free newsletter mention in the Monday edition to anyone who can translate this into American English:

Responding, Watson-Gandy told the court that Carroll “was not a qualifying floating chargeholder, he had not served a winding-up petition, he was not any of those who are the traditional respondents to an application [for administration].”

Surprise! Two-thirds of U.S. residents would have been happy to have their city win Amazon’s HQ2

Recode polled Americans about Amazon’s Regional Office 1 and 2 gambit and found that most people had a positive impression of the project, Rani Molla reports:

Of those who were aware of Amazon’s decision, 67 percent of respondents in the U.S. said they would have been happy if Amazon had chosen their home area for an HQ2. Those people overwhelmingly cited jobs (92 percent) as the reason for their approval, while nearly 60 percent said investment in public works and infrastructure improvements was their reason.

Some 44 percent had a favorable view of Amazon’s decision to split its new headquarters between two cities, while 47 percent were indifferent and just 9 percent had a negative opinion.

Revealed: the hidden global network behind Tommy Robinson

The Guardian finds that a far-right activist had been using Facebook’s fundraising tools to crowdfund a British Infowars clone:

He says he has raised several hundred thousand pounds via online donations, some of which were solicited via the Facebook donate button. Robinson has said he plans to use the money to launch a European version of the rightwing conspiracy website Infowars, and to sue the British government over his prison treatment.

But the tool is meant for charities alone. When the Guardian alerted Facebook to this, the social media company switched off the function within hours.

Launching Revolution: Social Media and the Egyptian Uprising

The Arab Spring is often cited as the event that convinced big tech platforms that they would primarily be used for good. But I haven’t seen much academic research on how, exactly, they contributed to the cause. Here’s a new paper from Killian Clarke and Korhan Koçak at Princeton University that attempts to put some rigor behind that idea. (They also use the word “mobilizational.” Academia!)

Drawing on evidence from the 2011 Egyptian uprising, we demonstrate how the use of two social media platforms – Facebook and Twitter – contributed to a discrete mobilizational outcome: the staging of a successful first protest in a revolutionary cascade, or, what we call “first mover mobilization.” Specifically, we argue that these two platforms facilitated the staging of a large, nationwide, and seemingly leaderless protest on January 25, 2011, which signaled to hesitant but sympathetic Egyptians that a revolution might be in the making. Using qualitative and quantitative evidence, including interviews, social media data, and surveys, we analyze three mechanisms that linked these platforms to the success of the January 25 protest: 1) protester recruitment, 2) protest planning and coordination, and 3) live updating about protest logistics. The paper not only contributes to debates about the role of the Internet in the Arab Spring and other recent waves of mobilization, but also demonstrates how scholarship on the Internet in politics might move toward making more discrete, empirically grounded causal claims.

Elsewhere

Facebook’s 2018 Year In Review

Facebook posted a year-end round up “highlighting the top ways people around the world connected with their communities on Facebook.” It leaves out a few things!

Lean In’s Sheryl Sandberg Problem

OUCH, from Nellie Bowles:

Inside, surrounded by wall art reminding women to be bold, the Lean In staff has a singular message: Ms. Sandberg now has little to do with the group she founded.

“I don’t want to take anything away — how could I? — from Sheryl as the inspiration for the work that we do,” said Rachel Thomas, the president of LeanIn.org. “But the book came out six years ago. It’s become less and less about Sheryl with every passing year.”

ByteDance in Talks to Raise $1.45 Billion for Startup Shopping Spree ($)

The maker of TikTok is planning to go invest in, and acquire, a slew of new apps, Yunan Zhang and Juro Osawa report:

In China, ByteDance is a media and content powerhouse that operates more than 10 apps, including two blockbusters—personalized news-feed app Jinri Toutiao and short-form video app Douyin. The new venture fund could help the company build new strategic alliances with startups, expanding its platform further beyond its own products. It could enable ByteDance to gain access to new technologies and content instead of relying entirely on its own teams to develop them.

ByteDance executives and investors have attributed the company’s success to its heavy emphasis on AI technology that connects users with personalized streams of articles and videos as well as ads. But as the company tries to attract more users and expand its platform globally, it needs to accumulate a broader range of content covering its users’ diverse interests. Investments in startups could play a role in such efforts.

SoftBank Hires First Female Partner to Help Manage $100 Billion Vision Fund

Kirthiga Reddy was Facebook’s first employee in India. Now she’s the first woman to become partner at SoftBank’s $100 billion Vision Fund.

Predictim Claims Its AI Can Flag ‘Risky’ Babysitters. So I Tried It on the People Who Watch My Kids.

Predictim, which got in trouble with Facebook and Twitter for misusing their APIs, tries to explain to Brian Merchant why it thinks his babysitter is “risky.” (The short answer seems to be: racism!)

My wife and my son’s grandmother, who, apart from the occasional incensed political post, have very clean profiles—they both work at universities, where they interact with research subjects and students, and are both white—got the ‘Lowest Risk’ ratings on each of the four categories. Kianah, a musician who babysits part-time, has never been anything but kind and respectful, and was enthusiastically referred to us by friends, was flagged as a “Moderate Risk” (3 out 5) for “Disrespectful Attitude” and a “Low risk” (2 out 5) for “Bullying / Harassment.

People Are Stacking Too Many Stones

Dammit, people:

The photograph in the Facebook post is pretty: piles of red rocks balanced at the edge of a cliff, suggesting a miniature mirror of the jagged rock face opposite. The stacks look like small shrines to mountain solitude, carefully balanced at the edge of a precipice. But when Zion National Park posted the photo, in September, the social-media coördinators for the park included a plea: “Please, enjoy the park but leave rocks and all natural objects in place.” The post noted the “curious but destructive practice” of building small stone towers, and said, “stacking up stones is simply vandalism.”

Launches

YouTube Rewind hides its community’s biggest moments to appease advertisers

YouTube Rewind is an annual video about the most famous videos on YouTube posted that year. But this year, the most famous things all got omitted, Julia Alexander reports:

Most creators would probably point to Logan Paul’s controversy surrounding his time in Japan’s Aokigahara forest, a multimillion-dollar boxing match between some of YouTube’s most prolific individuals, and the seemingly never-ending battle between PewDiePie and Bollywood production company T-Series. There were also multiple breakups between adored YouTubers, the rise of Johnny Johnny Yes Papa as a phenomenon, and Shane Dawson ruling the digital space by reimagining what YouTubers could create.

None of these moments appear in YouTube Rewind, the streaming service’s year-end wrap-up video, but that isn’t too surprising. YouTube Rewind is an annual look back at the trends, creators, and moments that YouTube executives and employees consider the most noteworthy. It’s a presentation of what makes YouTube unique, specifically designed to market its creators to advertisers in the hopes of securing large deals. The lack of these moments reiterates the divide between how the platform wants to be seen and the actual culture that creators participate in.

Takes

The ‘Next America’

Tom Friedman says regulating the big tech platforms should be a central issue of the 2020 presidential campaign:

Just one person — Mark Zuckerberg — controls Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram. The fact that he has shown himself to be much more interested in scaling his platforms than combating those who abused them for political and economic gain — and that his lieutenants were ready to go after their high-profile critics, like George Soros — should make breaking up or regulating Facebook a front-and-center issue in 2020. But just the raw political weight of behemoths like Facebook, Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Apple needs a closer look.

The Internet Is Getting Small And Boring. Long Live Tumblr.

Cates Holderness celebrates Tumblr and predicts it will be fine even without the world’s largest collection of online erotica:

The 2018 internet is dominated by three giant platforms — Twitter (Do you like Nazis and being harassed for having the audacity to exist? Have I got a site for for you!), Facebook (Your elementary school best friend is getting divorced and your uncle just learned to take selfies, enjoy!), and Instagram (Here’s what your friends were doing without you three days ago when everyone said they just wanted “a quiet night in,” buy this laxative tea while you weep about how lonely you are, then feel guilty for laughing at this meme that got reposted without attribution.). And the joke’s on you — you HAVE to be on all three of them! Happy 2018!!!

This internet feels small, and it’s shrinking every day as its algorithms make everything feel increasingly the same. Amid all this, Tumblr has been a safe harbor of delightful, weird, and deeply human stuff, presented using the radical system known as reverse chronological order. This shouldn’t be rocket science, and yet here we are: Somehow, Tumblr is the only social media platform I use that just shows me the posts from people I follow, in order of when they were posted. The further I scroll, the older posts get. And that’s beautiful. Algorithms don’t try to anticipate what I want to see, and neither is my feed determined by the whims of a random group of people who can up- or downvote things into oblivion.

Facebook’s New ‘Supreme Court’ Could Revolutionize Online Speech

I can’t get enough speculative discussion about Facebook’s Supreme Court, and Evelyn Douek has a nice piece on the many, many questions surrounding how it will work:

Though Zuckerberg appears to be seriously pursuing the idea, currently his conception of the independent body is more soundbite than substance. When he says that the SCOF will “ultimately make the final judgment call on what should be acceptable speech in a community that reflects the social norms and values of people all around the world,” he sets an impossible goal. There is no homogenous global community whose norms can be reflected in the decisions of a single body deciding contentious issues. But that doesn’t mean the proposed body cannot be an important development in online governance, creating a venue for appeal and redress, transparency and dialogue, and through which the idea of free speech in the online global community develops a greater substantive meaning than simply “whatever the platform says it is.”

How the independent body is set up will determine whether it furthers or hinders rights to freedom of expression and due process. There is a rich literature in comparative law showing that decisions of institutional design can have significant impacts not only on outcomes but the entire stability and legitimacy of a governance structure. These choices give substance to the idea that the body is “independent.” The question of how Facebook defines the body’s jurisdiction is particularly important. Presumably it will cover any take-down decision, but what about the decision to demote content and limit its distribution and engagement, a tool Facebook has said it is using to deal with more and more problematic content? These decisions are particularly opaque and controversial and have generated controversy. If the independent body cannot review these decisions as well, Facebook will be left with a large degree of control over what claims get ventilated and reviewed, and will be able to determine the ambit of the body’s promise of due process.

And finally …

Tumblr’s announcement that it will ban adult content beginning later this month has set up a new an exciting game in which bloggers attempt to determine exactly where the Verizon-owned network will draw the line. Today’s finding, via Chappell Ellison on Twitter, is that a hot naked man chest is acceptable only if accompanied by an owl wearing a hat.

Please add that to your content moderation guidelines and update your blogging strategy accordingly.

Talk to me

Send me tips, comments, questions, and weekend plans: casey@theverge.com. I’m roasting a chicken on Sunday!

Grab one of Samsung’s high-end QLED TVs for $800 off (and $300 cheaper than Amazon’s price)

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Image: samsung

If you’re out of the loop, Amazon and Best Buy are doing some 12 Days and 20 Days of deals tech events to give us something to salivate over now that Black Friday weekend is over.

We’ll admit that some of their TV deals are pretty good, but don’t jump the gun — we’re about to do you one better. 

The 65-inch model of Samsung’s fancy QLED series is only $2,199 at the PCMag Shop. For reference, that’s $800 off the original price and $300 less than Amazon and Best Buy‘s sale prices on the same TV. You’re welcome.

Samsung’s Q8F models are truly top of the line, just one notch beneath their most premium creation yet: The Q9F. But the thing is, unless you’re weirdly intense about graphics, you’re probably not going to notice the minute variations in dimming technology or the difference between Q HDR Elite and EliteMax. The place where you will notice a difference, however, is in your wallet. 

Plus, CNET added the Q8 in their roundup of the best TVs of 2018 when they could have added the Q9 if they wanted to. Boom.

Ready to experience picture like you never have before? The Q8F offers full array LED performance and Samsung’s infamous Quantum Dots for brighter colors, more intense contrasts, and overall more lifelike image quality than their previous generations — even in sunlit rooms where glare would usually take over. (It’s like finally putting on your glasses after a week of not being able to find them.) The 120Hz native refresh rate guarantees speedy, fluid motion like content is supposed to be watched, with all of your apps in one place and ready for binge-watching.

However, our favorite feature that you won’t see anywhere else is Ambient Mode. When you’re not using the TV for entertainment, Ambient Mode switches over to decor mode by blending in with the room’s surroundings — or displaying the photos of your choice. Here, with the help of built-in Bixby voice, you can also play music, get the news or the weather, and more.

Regularly $2,999, you can save $800 and add this beauty to your home for just $2,199. You’ll be glad you did.

Car-branded phones need to make a U-turn if they ever want to impress

Cars are slowly but surely merging, technologically speaking, with the smartphone in our pocket. Functionality is often repeated, from cellular connectivity to Spotify integration, and some infotainment touchscreens even show versions of the same software that runs on our phones. The car and the smartphone are becoming one.

The relationship between car brands and smartphone makers is a long one, but before in-car tech caught up with mobile tech, the two worked together in a different way —  by co-branding products. What have the results been like? Well, for the most part, we’re going to it’s a checkered past. Don’t believe us? Settle down while we explain.

Land Rover

land rover explore top half
Land Rover Explore

The first name on our list perfectly encapsulates how car brands getting involved with smartphones can go well, and badly. Early on, the Land Rover name was used on rugged phones like the S1. They were phones for the Land Rover Defender owner, who needed a phone that still worked after it had fallen out of the cab into the mud, been run over, forgotten, and recovered a week later. These weren’t Land Rover phones, they were phones with the Land Rover name on them.

Not so for the Land Rover Explore, a 2018 Android smartphone that was made for the modern Land Rover Discovery, Range Rover, or Evoque owner, not Farmer Giles in his Defender. Relevant features, a design with influence from the cars, and an actual reason to buy it — the Land Rover Explore is the way car brand collaborations should be.

Ferrari

car branded smartphones are almost all bad vertu ti ferrari inspired by the f12 berlinetta launched
Vertu Ti Ferrari Edition

Instantly recognizable around the world, whether it’s on the back of a car or the front of a t-shirt, the addition of a Prancing Horse onto a non-car product means one thing — it’ll be expensive, and of questionable taste. A fine fit for a luxury smartphone then. Except every time Ferrari has put its name on a phone, everything has gone wrong. There have been quite a few Ferrari-branded phones, but we’re going to single out two.

Vertu has made a few Ferrari-branded phones, with the most memorable being a special edition of the Vertu Ti, its first Android phone. The Ferrari edition aimed to take the sleek looks of the F12 Berlinetta and blend them with the Vertu Ti, which was a big bruiser of a smartphone. Leather used in the car covered the device’s back, while a diamond-like coating (DLC) was added to the titanium body, and carbon fiber covered the pillow and physical keys. Naturally, there are various horses and Ferrari logos, and it cost around $6,500.

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Too much? Motorola repurposed a phone called the i867 in 2012, and had the gall to say it was “inspired by the Ferrari 458,” despite looking like a pig’s behind. It was red (of course), had some carbon fiber effects, some Ferrari wallpapers, and came with a Ferrari key ring. At least the Vertu Ti Ferrari Edition was expensive, to go with your expensive car. The Motorola i867 was a nasty wart of a phone to go with your Proton Impian. Ferrari has also embarrassed itself with an Acer phone, the Liquid E Ferrari Special Edition.

Lamborghini

oppo find x lamborghini angle
Oppo Find X Lamborghini Edition Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The mobile phones made by Tonino Lamborghini, a luxury lifestyle brand started by the heir to the Lamborghini name, don’t count here for reasons we will explain later. What does count is the Oppo Find X Lamborghini Edition. Launched with the innovative Find X, the Lamborghini Edition comes in a flashy box with some Lambo-branded true wireless headphones, and a version of the Find X with Oppo’s ultra-fast Super VOOC charging system.

Just 35 minutes is all it takes to charge the battery, which at least connects the Lamborghini brand to the phone, despite it not actually being involved outside of lending its name. Are we disappointed? No, because there’s an actual reason to buy the Lamborghini Edition over the regular Find X, if you can stomach the higher price. A decent example of a partnership.

Bentley

Vertu Signature Touch for Bentley hands on
Vertu for Bentley

Vertu exorcised its Ferrari demons when it launched the Vertu for Bentley, based on the Signature Touch, in 2015. The phone was made for Bentley owners, and came with an app that remotely controlled aspects of the car, so everything from the climate control to the seat position, and even the window blinds could be adjusted from your phone.

More helpful for anyone traveling in the back of a Bentley than the front, we loved that the leather on the phone could match the leather in your car, very much in keeping with the bespoke nature of owning a Bentley. Vertu is no more, and Bentley hasn’t partnered with another car brand since. It’s rather a shame, as there is obviously some understanding of what makes a decent collaboration here.

Branded car phones

The bottom of the car-branded phone barrel is 10-feet deep in lazy, electronic tat that makes as much sense as a commemorative plate featuring both the cast of The Great British Bake Off, and ExxonMobil’s board of directors. What do we find when we rummage through? A Motorola International 8700 with Jaguar branding, which was included with your brand-new Jaguar bought in 1996, along with less flashy Motorola analog phones that came with Ford cars of the same era. There’s even a Hummer phone, which has nothing to do with Hummer cars aside from the name.

Mostly products of their time, in that extensive co-branding projects were a rarity when these devices were made, these are no worse (and no better) than branded phones from designers including D&G, Armani, and even Billabong. However, they serve as warnings to companies considering partnerships today. We don’t like these. Please try harder.

Why Porsche Design doesn’t count

porsche design huawei mate rs interview logo
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Bet you’ve scanned this and seen Porsche Design hasn’t been mentioned, and are about to knock out a derogatory tweet, right? Before you do, there’s a reason Porsche Design isn’t here. It’s because Porsche Design doesn’t make cars. It’s a design house that happens to have been started by Dr. Ferdinand Porsche, who absolutely knows a thing or two about wonderful sports cars. But they aren’t the same thing.

Yes, Porsche Design has put its name on phones from BlackBerry, Huawei, and even Sagem in the past, but the closest thing to a car it has put its name on is an Austrian train, and that’s not close enough to be featured here.

Tonino Lamborghini, an Italian design house that’s not Lamborghini Automobili, also made many phones that don’t qualify for exactly the same reason. From the recent Alpha One to the Tauri 88, these aren’t Lamborghini phones, they are affronts against all those with eyes. And taste.

OnePlus has the chance to change things

Not all the phones mentioned above are shameless cash-grabs, aimed at convincing fans of luxury cars they should pay too much money for rebadged mobile phones. No, some are worse. However, excitingly, OnePlus has the chance to change all that with its partnership with McLaren. It’s a potential winner. OnePlus has a history of making great collaboration phones — from Star Wars phones to one with artist Jean-Charles de Castelbajac — and McLaren protects its strong brand with practically religious aplomb.

Details are coming on December 11. Will we get a McLaren OnePlus 6T? Or a big bowl of disappointment? We’ll update this article when we know more, but we’re ready for history to be changed.

Editors’ Recommendations

Save $50 on an Xbox One S ‘Fortnite’ bundle and get a free controller from Best Buy

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Image: Best Buy

It seems like battle royale style games took over the world almost overnight. One day the beta for a game called PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds opened up and next thing you know Call of Duty is getting in on the action. But the undisputed king right now is Fortnite. According to Epic Games, the game draws in more than 78 million people monthly — that’s nine times as many people who live in New York City, and more than double the amount of people who live in all of Canada.

With the holidays now in full swing, there are sure to be even more wanting in on the craze. For them, we have the ultimate deal: The Xbox One S Fortnite bundle is currently on sale for $249.99 at Best Buy, which is $50 off the original $299.99 price. With this deal you’ll not only get the system and the game, but you’ll even get a free black or white Xbox One controller as part of the bundle.

Now you might be asking “isn’t Fortnite free to download?” Yes it is, but there are plenty of parents who may not want to open that can of worms, risking a situation where their kids run up their credit card bill on V-Bucks. The bundle will get you started off right and avoid the need for a credit card (for now) with 2,000 V-Bucks and the Eon cosmetic pack. This is also the only way to get the legendary cosmetic set, which would make it one of the more expensive cosmetic packs if it were sold in-game.

The system isn’t too bad either. The Xbox One S is a great addition to the home theater because it can be more than a game console. The One S is able to play 4K Blu-rays and stream 4K content from apps like Netflix. And with all the new games released this fall — Red Dead Redemption 2, Battlefield V, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, and Forza Horizon 4 — there are plenty of others to enjoy.

And who knows, you might get lucky and drop in on the next Ninja/Drake team-up.

Huawei’s CFO is being accused of fraud, and her main defense is a PowerPoint

After years of facing suspicion from US authorities, Huawei is now standing trial for fraud. Today, a bail hearing was held for Huawei’s chief financial officer, who was arrested in Canada on Saturday at the request of US law enforcement. The CFO, Meng Wanzhou, is facing extradition to the US for conspiring to defraud banking institutions, according to the Star Vancouver.

Many lined up to see Meng’s bail hearing today, after the extremely high-profile arrest that signified the first major break in a US probe that has mostly been kept from the public. Meng happens to be the daughter of Huawei’s founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei, a former People’s Liberation Army engineer whose connection to the Chinese Communist Party has contributed to the suspicions of US intelligence agencies. Meng also serves as deputy chair on Huawei’s board.

The US has an arrest warrant out for Meng that was issued by a New York court on August 22nd. It has 60 days from the time of Meng’s arrest on Saturday to provide Canadian courts with evidence and intent.

Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou Attends Bail Hearing After Arrest In Vancouver Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

Meng was arrested in Vancouver during a flight transfer where she was flying from Hong Kong to Mexico. Canada’s prosecutor John Gibb-Carsley noted that Meng used to travel frequently to the US and has a son attending school in Boston but has made no trips since March 2017, implying that she began to avoid traveling to the US after Huawei started to be probed by the US Justice Department. Still, a number of Huawei executives continue to visit the US after the probe began, suggesting that Meng’s position differed from theirs.

Meng served on the board for a Hong Kong-based company called Skycom, which allegedly did business with Iran between 2009 and 2014. US banks worked with Huawei at this time, so Iran sanctions were violated indirectly, and Meng therefore committed fraud against these banks. Skycom reportedly had connections to Huawei and at the bail hearing today, Gibb-Carsley argued that Skycom was an unofficial subsidiary of Huawei’s, using the same company logo. “Huawei is SkyCom,” he said, “This is the crux, I say, of the alleged fraud.” We’ve reached out to Huawei for comment.

In Huawei and Meng’s defense, her lawyer, David Martin, introduced a PowerPoint presentation that Meng had once given to explain to a bank in Hong Kong that Huawei had not violated any US sanctions.

The hearing today also examined whether Meng would be a flight risk if she was granted the $1 million bail, part of the argument Gibb-Carsley was pushing. Defense lawyer Martin responded by explaining the Chinese emphasis on saving face, and how Meng wouldn’t want her father and Huawei to look bad. Even more than that, “she would not embarrass China itself,” Martin said.

Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg face off in Epic Rap Battles of History

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Oooohhhhhh, the Epic Rap Battles of History video guys are back after a two-year hiatus, and they’re coming for two of the most shade-able figures in the tech world: Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg.

Epic Rap Battles is a video series that pits public figures against each other with fictional and non-fictional beefs. In 2016, their two rhyme spitters where none other than, you guessed it, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

This time around, the robotic Zuckerberg faces off against the pompous Musk. Each  brags about their achievements, and rags on the other for their personal and professional, erm, shortcomings.

“I’m making brilliant innovations in a race against the dark ages,” raps fake Musk. “You provide a place to discover your aunt’s kinda racist.”

“I’ll end your story like Snapchat —ghost!” the rapping Zuckerberg spits. “Elon you’re nothing/ but an attention seeking outcast/And your star is faded/like you on a podcast.”

Daanggg.

Musk and Zuckerberg are two CEOs who couldn’t be more diametrically opposed in their public personas. They did feud over a Facebook satellite Elon Musk happened to blow up, once. And Elon Musk took part in the #DeleteFacebook movement by removing some of his company’s Facebook pages. But the two billionaires mostly stay out of each other’s hair.