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The Nanoleaf Canvas Light Panel smarter pack is $50 off at Costco

If you like your lighting to be on the adventurous side, rest assured that Nanoleaf’s canvas light panels aren’t made to be subtle. The touch-sensitive squares are flashy and versatile, with the ability to display more than 16 million colors and a modular design that lets you place them in a variety of patterns. The bright LED panels also work with all the major smart home platforms, and can cycle through a number of preset colors or respond to sound when in “Rhythm Mode,” a feature that’s just as suited for the ambient noise outside your bedroom as your favorite record. Right now, Costco members can purchase Nanoleaf’s Canvas Light Panel smarter pack with nine panels and everything needed to get started for $50, one of the better prices we’ve seen on the intuitive lighting system.

Nanoleaf Canvas Light Panel smarter pack

Nanoleaf’s colorful, touch-sensitive LED panels support all major smart home platforms and can cycle through more than 16 million colors, making them the perfect accent piece for any room in need of a little flair.

The Razer Nari Essential is by no means a groundbreaking headset, yet, for the price, it’s an admirable entry-level model that will appease most gamers, especially on the PC side. The jet-black wireless gaming headset features an adjustable headband, a sturdy build, and support for both PC and PlayStation consoles, with THX Spatial Audio simulated surround sound available on the former. Normally $100, it’s currently available at Woot for $55, more than 45 percent off its typical list price. If Razer’s budget-friendly Nari Essential doesn’t offer what you’re looking for, however, we’ve also rounded up the best gaming headsets overall, including multiplatform models and both wired and wireless alternatives.

Razer Nari Essential

At $55, the Nari Essential is hard to beat. It’s one of Razer’s more affordable wireless headsets, with 16 hours of battery life, a well-made build, and simulated surround sound on PC, a feature that lets you pinpoint enemies before sneak up on you.

Good noise-cancellation can be hard to come by for $100 — just look at the Nothing Ear 1s. Fortunately, there’s the second-gen Amazon Echo Buds, a pair of true wireless earbuds that churn out satisfying sound while benefitting from improved comfort and noise cancellation over their first-gen counterpart. Amazon’s mid-range earbuds, which are now on sale for a limited time at Best Buy for $80, also feature IPX4 water and sweat resistance, and allow for hands-free voice commands via Alexa, meaning Amazon’s virtual assistant is always available at the tip of your tongue. Read our review.

Amazon Echo Buds (second-gen)

Amazon’s Echo Buds 2 improve upon the originals with a more comfortable design, improved ANC, and a more natural ambient sound mode. They still offer hands-free Alexa voice commands as well.

Other deals of note

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How to

Telegram’s group video calls can now have up to 1,000 viewers

Telegram has announced the latest new features and improvements making their way to the popular messaging app. Video is the focus this time around. After launching group video calls last month, those sessions are now able to tally up to 1,000 viewers. The maximum number of people able to participate and broadcast to the video call remains at 30, but you can have quite the audience now for “anything from online lectures to live rap battles,” according to the company.

Video messages will also now come through at a higher resolution, and you can tap them for a larger view of the clip. When recording your own video messages, Telegram says that audio from your device will now keep playing as you do so, “so you can now sing along to your favorite songs or reply without pausing your podcast.” You can now zoom in when recording with your phone’s rear camera, as well.

Other additions include screen sharing for one-on-one video calls (with audio from the device of whoever’s broadcasting), the option to auto-delete messages after a month — the longest option was previously a week — and more precise drawing. Telegram has also spruced up the user experience with animations for the passcode screen and when you send messages on Android; iOS users already got these message animations in a previous update. For the full list of changes, head over to Telegram’s blog.

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A Tesla Megapack burst into flames at ‘Victorian Big Battery’

A Tesla Megapack caught fire today during initial testing of a highly anticipated new utility-scale battery in Victoria, Australia. Luckily, there were no injuries or disruptions to the local electricity supply, CNBC reports. The blaze posed no risk of spreading to the nearby community, according to Bloomberg, but it did trigger a toxic smoke warning for residents who were told to stay indoors, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. The cause of the fire is still unclear.

The fire affected the aptly named “Victorian Big Battery.” Spanning an area nearly as big as a football stadium, it’s one of the largest in the world. It’s scheduled to be operational by the end of this year, and the 300MW battery should be able to store enough energy to power more than a million homes in Victoria for half an hour.

That’s supposed to help prevent blackouts that have affected hundreds of thousands of homes in the region in recent years, especially in the summer when demand for electricity spikes. Giant batteries are also crucial to meeting environmental and renewable energy goals. The state of Victoria aims to get half of its electricity from renewable sources like wind and solar power by 2030. Batteries can fill in the gaps in energy supply when the sun doesn’t shine and winds don’t blow.

French renewable energy company Neoen is developing the Victorian Big Battery alongside Tesla and energy company AusNet Services. Neoen and Tesla brought another grid-scale battery online in 2017, which was the largest lithium-ion battery in the world at the time. Neoen did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Verge.

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Verizon adds new 5G Mobile Hotspot plans

Verizon has introduced new mobile hotspot plans, with four options to choose from starting at 15GB for $20 per month up to 150GB for $80 per month. They offer standalone and unlimited plan add-on mobile hotspot data that’s ready to be taken on the road. Maybe in a Class B Winnebago Solis with a pop-up sleeping compartment, as featured on Wheel of Fortune, south through the redwoods and along the coast and then on through the painted deserts of the Southwest. What? I said that out loud? I mean, hypothetically.

Anyway, the most basic plan, Essential, offers low-band Nationwide 5G and 4G LTE connectivity. The three more expensive plans — creatively named Plus, Pro, and Premium — include Ultra Wideband 5G, which encompasses the very fast, limited-range mmWave flavor of 5G as well as upcoming mid-band spectrum that should deliver broad coverage and fast performance.

The plans promise certain monthly premium data allotments; if they’re exceeded, data will be slower for the remainder of the month. Essential and Plus are available to Verizon customers, while Pro and Premium can be either added to an unlimited plan or purchased as standalone products.

This is all well and good, but while we’re on the subject of unlimited plans, let’s not forget that some of us (me) pay for unlimited data on Verizon that inexplicably can’t be used via mobile hotspot. Let’s say (hypothetically) you’re sitting around your freezing cold house in March during a power outage waiting for the heat and the Wi-Fi to come back on and you think you’d like to get a little work done by switching on your phone’s mobile hotspot feature. Nope! Because you picked the cheapest unlimited plan, you’re stuck working on offline Google Docs until the power comes back.

Well, now I (hypothetically) have a couple of options: pay up for a premium unlimited plan (which is exactly what The Man wants us to do), or buy a mobile hotspot, load that baby up with Premium Unlimited hotspot data and take off on a dreamy #vanlife tour of the Pacific Coast in an imaginary Winnebago Solis. The white one, not the red one. Let’s not get carried away.

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Amazon gives Alexa a new iOS widget and the ability to assign reminders

Amazon has updated the Alexa app on iOS so that you can access the voice assistant right from your home screen via a new widget. Everyone can use the assistant to remind specific members of your household to do tasks through a new “assign reminders” skill.

Due to the somewhat restrictive nature of the widgets on iOS, the new Ask Alexa widget isn’t so much Alexa itself as it is a link directly to the iOS app. But if you have the Alexa widget placed on any of your screens and you’ve already given the Alexa app permission to use your iPhone’s mic, you’ll be able to start making requests with a tap.

The Ask Alexa widget in iOS.

And now those requests can get a bit more granular. Amazon’s given Alexa the ability to assign reminders to specific members of your household if they have a Voice Profile set up on the same Amazon Alexa account. So if you say “Alexa, remind Jeff to take the lasagna out of the freezer at 10AM,” Alexa will be able to deliver the reminder to the right person, at the right time, through the Alexa app. You can add profiles to your Alexa account in Settings under Your Profile, and Amazon says you can assign relationship nicknames to each one, like mom, dad, daughter, etc.

Alexa picks up new features and skills on a monthly basis, but Amazon also announced plans in June to open up Alexa even further to third-party developers. Among many new APIs, developers will be able to create custom widgets for the Echo Show.

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OnePlus 9 Pro review: the best Android alternative to Samsung

The OnePlus 9 Pro is a legitimate flagship phone that is genuinely competitive with the best Android phones on the market — at least from a features and quality perspective. Yet in terms of market and mind share, it’s still destined to be a niche device for a small group of enthusiasts looking for a specific kind of elegance in their Android device.

And that’s great.

If you live in the US and you’re buying an Android phone, chances are very high that you’ll end up with a Samsung Galaxy phone. Samsung has the carrier relationships, quality, and marketing that have led directly to market share. LG, Motorola, and even Google sell more phones here than OnePlus does.

But after nearly seven years and dozens of phones, OnePlus has established itself as a brand that can make great phones that are serious alternatives to the mainstream. The $1069 OnePlus 9 Pro (the only option in North America, other parts of the world have access to a slightly less expensive model) achieves that goal with only a handful of notable compromises.

OnePlus’ flagship phones always come with a laundry list of top-of-the-line specs, but what makes the OnePlus 9 Pro good isn’t the numbers; it’s how well those specs translate into one of the best experiences you can get using Android.

The OnePlus 9 Pro has an elegant design, but won’t support 5G on all networks

The OnePlus 9 Pro has an elegant design but won’t support 5G on all networks.

OnePlus 9 Pro hardware design and 5G support

The hardware design on the OnePlus 9 Pro is the most seamless, elegant phone that the company has designed to date. It is, of course, big. It has a 6.7-inch screen that goes from edge to edge in a body that’s narrow enough to make it just barely usable for me in one hand.

What I can’t help but notice is how far OnePlus has come in build quality. The glass on the front and back curves into the aluminum rail on the edges with no seams at all. It’s well-balanced, beautiful, and solid.

Top: OnePlus 9 Pro; bottom: Galaxy S20 Plus. Both phones have similarly curved glass and molded aluminum rails.

Top: OnePlus 9 Pro. Bottom: Galaxy S20 Plus. Both phones have similarly curved glass and molded aluminum rails.

It has a three-stage ringer switch

It has a three-stage ringer switch.

It’s also the spitting image of a Galaxy S20 Plus. Shift a couple of buttons around, move the selfie camera to the middle, and swap out the logo, and it’s the same design. I get that there are only so many ways to sandwich curved glass and aluminum together, but it’s uncanny.

To be fair, OnePlus does keep some of its identity in the three-stage ringer switch, which easily lets you toggle between a ringer, vibration, and fully silent. It may still be my favorite feature on OnePlus phones, and I remain baffled as to why more Android phone makers don’t adopt a physical ringer switch.

Speaking of vibration, the haptics on the OnePlus 9 Pro aren’t sloppy at all, unlike many Android phones. Unfortunately, the trade-off is that they aren’t very strong; I often can’t feel it vibrate in my pocket.

The OnePlus 9 Pro has the top-tier Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor, which is paired with eight gigs of RAM on the 128GB model. Unfortunately, this configuration isn’t sold in North America — OnePlus originally expected to make it available, but later said that supply constraints led it to offer only the more expensive version with 256GB of storage and 12GB of RAM. There’s no microSD card slot for storage expansion in either model. What you get is what you get.

It supports both Sub-6 and millimeter-wave (mmWave) styles of 5G, but there’s a significant caveat: the phone supports it, but OnePlus has only managed to land 5G certification from its carrier partner, T-Mobile. If you buy it unlocked, as of now, it will only work with T-Mobile’s 5G network. Everything else will be LTE. AT&T 5G support doesn’t appear to be in the cards at all, and as for Verizon, OnePlus says that it “continues to work with Verizon to certify both the 9 and 9 Pro on its 5G network.” Later, on March 26th, Verizon announced that it would support 5G on the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro.

OnePlus’ wireless warp charger can fully charge the phone in under 45 minutes

OnePlus’ wireless warp charger can fully charge the phone in under 45 minutes.

OnePlus 9 Pro battery and charging

For OnePlus, the standout spec is its proprietary charging technology. There’s a 65W charger included in the box, and it can charge up the phone ridiculously fast. The phone’s 4,500mAh battery is actually split in two, which helps further speed charging.

The 65W charger comes in the box (pictured with the regular OnePlus 9).

The 65W charger comes in the box (pictured with the regular OnePlus 9).

If you like, you can spend an additional $69 on OnePlus’ new Warp Charge 50 wireless charger. It charges at 25W, but since the battery is split, it’s essentially the same as charging at 50W, wirelessly. It also works if you set the phone on the charger in landscape mode. With the phone fully dead, it charged completely in 45 minutes. With ambient mode in Google Assistant on, it took a bit longer — but it was still wicked fast compared to other wireless chargers.

That 4,500mAh battery was enough to get me through a full day and a half of moderately heavy usage. However, OnePlus phones do tend to be a little more variable in their battery life depending on use. Spending a day shooting 4K video and pushing the processor with games meant I could kill it with less than four hours of screen-on time.

So while the battery life might not be best in class, the way OnePlus has built its ecosystem for charging means I’m able to top off faster than I can with other phones — provided I use OnePlus’ proprietary chargers, of course.

The OnePlus 9 Pro has an LTPO OLED screen, which can help with battery life

The OnePlus 9 Pro has an LTPO OLED screen, which can help with battery life.

OnePlus 9 Pro screen

After wireless charging, the next standout spec on the OnePlus 9 Pro is that 6.7-inch screen. Like Samsung, OnePlus has switched over to an LTPO style of OLED, which can be more power efficient and allows the company to have more control over the refresh rate.

The screen can go all the way from 120Hz on down to 1Hz, depending on what’s happening on the display. OnePlus has branded the touch response rate on the screen as “Hyper Touch,” clocked at 360Hz for certain games, and though I am dubious it makes that big a difference for gamers, OnePlus says it could. More consequential is the screen resolution: 1440 x 3216 at 525ppi. You can leave it at that high resolution and have the high refresh rate screen going at the same time. Doing so probably hits battery life, but to me, the point of this max-spec phone is to max the specs, so I didn’t turn down the resolution or the refresh rate.

Those are the specs on the screen, but it’s the experience that matters. And again, I think OnePlus has done a remarkable job here. Something about the tuning of the animations in OxygenOS makes this phone feel just a little bit smoother than even Samsung phones. I also appreciate the color tuning — although it’s not as subdued as an iPhone or even a Pixel, it’s more restrained than Samsung’s default settings.

The whole camera system on the OnePlus 9 Pro is solid, but has room to improve

The whole camera system on the OnePlus 9 Pro is solid but has room to improve.

OnePlus 9 Pro camera

Without delving into a lot of history, I will just point out that until very recently, camera quality has been the main downfall for OnePlus phones. It’s a particularly bad way to fall down, too, because often, the clearest and simplest way to compare phones that otherwise look and perform nearly equivalently is to look at the photos they take.

OnePlus knows all of this and wants to position the OnePlus 9 Pro as a heads-up competitor — or at least a viable alternative — to the very best Samsung and even Apple have to offer. So it did a thing a lot of challenger brands do: called in a ringer.

That ringer is Hasselblad, which OnePlus is partnering with to improve its camera results. It will be a multiyear effort, and it’s far from guaranteed it’ll be a fruitful partnership. In fact, most of these sorts of deals don’t really do anything notable when it comes to the camera’s quality.

This year, Hasselblad’s participation with OnePlus’ development process amounted to helping the company tune the colors from the camera and lending a bit of its interface to the camera’s Pro mode. Oh, and most importantly for OnePlus, Hasselblad allowed its logo to be stamped next to the lenses.

I do think there’s some credit due to this color-tuning influence. In the same way that other smartphone brands have a “look” to their photos, I think OnePlus is developing its own. iPhone photos are generally flat and neutral, tending to the warm side of color; Pixel photos contrasty and blue; and Samsung photos have the vibrancy slider set to max.

OnePlus 9 Pro: indoor with mixed lighting handles color well

OnePlus 9 Pro: indoor with mixed lighting handles color well.

OnePlus tends to ramp up blue colors, which is usually fine but can sometimes get the camera into trouble

OnePlus tends to ramp up blue colors, which is usually fine but can sometimes get the camera into trouble.

OnePlus does a good job not adding too much vibrancy when it’s not there in the first place

OnePlus does a good job of not adding too much vibrancy when it’s not there in the first place.

The OnePlus 9 Pro’s image output lands mostly in the middle. It tends toward blue, and it definitely lifts up shadows to create more even lighting. Its photos are more striking but less accurate than what you’ll get out of an iPhone.

The camera system is good, but it can’t quite match the quality you get from an iPhone 12 Pro Max or Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra — both of which cost more than the OnePlus 9 Pro. It handles a variety of conditions quite well, but sometimes I just had to take an extra beat to compose my shot. It let me better judge what the viewfinder was showing and, honestly, gave me time to try the shot again.

Galaxy S21 Ultra (left) vs. OnePlus 9 Pro (right)

As usual with smartphone cameras, I think the difference comes down to software. I like the colors the 9 Pro produces, but sometimes it just tries too hard and whiffs. Similarly, OnePlus seems to want to bring a little of that Pixel contrast magic to bear but instead just oversharpens. And lightening shadows is sometimes laudable, but not when it adds completely unnecessary and distracting image noise.

The camera can try too hard to brighten shadows, introducing noise

The camera can try too hard to brighten shadows, introducing noise.

The camera oversharpens sometimes, too. Take a look at the fringing around the runners on the lake in this ultrawide shot

The camera oversharpens sometimes, too. Take a look at the fringing around the runners on the lake in this ultrawide shot.

The main camera uses a new 48-megapixel Sony sensor with OIS, though when I pressed OnePlus to tell me what exactly that sensor brings to the table, I didn’t really get a clear answer. You can shoot 12-bit RAW images in the Pro mode (which is two bits more than last year, if you’re keeping count).

That’s all nice, but the interface on Pro mode is what gets me. You can clearly see what’s set to manual and what’s in auto mode. It’s simple and easy to use, too. Best of all is focus peaking, which draws little lines over the part of the image that’s in focus. It is a lot clearer and more fun to use than the tap-to-focus you need to use on other phones. (You can do that here, too, of course.)

The OnePlus 9 Pro’s other cameras include a big, 50-megapixel ultrawide with a sensor that’s quite a lot nicer than the usual step-down sensors ultrawides get stuck with. I loved using it right up until it went haywire with sharpening. OnePlus put in a custom lens to help with distortion at the edges, and it works as well or better than pure software fixes at keeping straight lines from bowing.

The telephoto camera is 3.3x, and it’s not anything special at that zoom level. Beyond it, digital zoom is kind of a mess. It gets pantsed by the S21 Ultra with its periscope-style lens. There’s also a monochrome camera that serves only as a helper for the rest of the system, but I suspect it’s not doing anything especially important. OnePlus did drop the gimmicky and pointless “color filter” camera from last year’s 8 Pro this time around. It will probably drop the monochrome camera next year, if I had to guess.

30X zoom. Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (left) vs OnePlus Pro 9 (right).

OnePlus’ software-focused Nightscape mode works really well for capturing nighttime shots, although to my tastes, it over-brightens the image. Portrait mode is a mixed bag; heads often look artificially cut out from the blurry background. Again, I can get good shots, but portrait mode was often one of those situations where I needed to try the shot a second time. The selfie camera is passable in good light but falls down fast in the dark.

Unfortunately, video is equally messy. The OnePlus 9 Pro will let you shoot up to 8K 30 or 4K 120, but neither looked good. In fact, regular old 4K 30 has that overprocessed and oversharpened look you see so often from smartphones. The big new feature is improved HDR for backlit subjects, but the effect is minimal at best.

That’s a whole pile of critical takes compared to phones that cost more than this phone. But despite the price difference, I think the OnePlus 9 Pro’s camera should be held to as high a standard as possible — it’s a flagship phone. It can sometimes hang with the best of the best, and that’s a win.

You can put all your widgets in a drop-down menu instead of on your home screen.

You can put all your widgets in a drop-down menu instead of on your home screen.

OnePlus 9 Pro performance and OxygenOS 11

Even though the camera is often the main differentiator for an Android phone, it’s not necessarily everybody’s highest priority. When I’m not pixel-peeping photos, the OnePlus 9 Pro is the best Android phone I’ve used so far this year. The performance is great. I’m especially impressed with the optical in-screen fingerprint sensor, which is super fast and doesn’t seem to be thrown by weird lighting conditions.

OnePlus’ version of Android is called OxygenOS, and it’s now at version 11. The company has borrowed Samsung’s idea of shifting content down to meet your thumb and added in support for an always-on ambient display. The animations feel smooth, and OnePlus has learned its lesson about how annoying it can be to have apps close in the background too often.

OnePlus has committed to two major OS updates and three years of bimonthly security updates, which puts it ahead of brands like LG but behind Samsung and Google.

You can customize a few things like the font and icons, too. My favorite customization is an ambient display mode that displays a colorful bar that shows how often you’ve been using your phone throughout the day.

One feature borrowed from Apple and / or Microsoft is the ability to put your widgets into a separate panel so they’re not littering your main home screen, accessible via a quick swipe down. I love it, but I wish it wasn’t mapped to the same thing other Android phones use to quickly bring down notifications.

Mostly, though, OxygenOS just feels chill, especially compared to Samsung. OnePlus isn’t pushing its own ecosystem of apps and services (though with a new OnePlus Watch coming, perhaps that may change). It’s also not festooning its own apps with advertisements, unlike Samsung.

OxygenOS 11 is smooth and less annoying than other versions of Android

OxygenOS 11 is smooth and less annoying than other versions of Android.
Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

The OnePlus 9 Pro (top) and OnePlus 9

The OnePlus 9 Pro (top) and OnePlus 9.

The OnePlus 9 has a slightly smaller screen

The OnePlus 9 (right) has a slightly smaller screen.

The OnePlus 9 Pro is not a “flagship killer.” It’s a flagship. Although it still costs a little less than its top-tier competitors, it nevertheless is a pricey phone that makes a lot of promises. Mostly, it delivers on them. Even though a tiny fraction of customers buy OnePlus phones compared to Apple and Samsung, the company has built a track record long enough to deserve its status as an established brand.

If you’re considering one of the new OnePlus phones, I am actually hard-pressed to make the case for the OnePlus 9 Pro over the regular OnePlus 9, which Allison Johnson reviewed. The regular OnePlus 9 is $240 less, and the things you lose are mostly the nice-to-haves that justify the Pro’s existence: fast wireless charging, OIS, a telephoto lens, mmWave 5G, and the slightly larger screen. The cheaper OnePlus 9 lacks telephoto, but its other cameras take photos that are nearly equivalent to the pro. It has a high refresh rate screen, fast wired charging, wireless charging (though it’s not as fast), and most importantly, a nice OnePlus software experience with great performance.

The reason to opt for the 9 Pro over the regular 9 is in some ways the same reason you’d opt for a OnePlus phone over a Samsung phone in the first place: it’s just a little nicer and a little different than what everybody else has in their pocket.

Update March 26th, 2021 5pm ET: Verizon announced it would support 5G on the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro and OnePlus confirmed they will not work on AT&T’s 5G network. The review has been updated to note the new information.

Update July 27th, 2021 4pm ET: OnePlus has stated that despite its original intention to do so, it won’t sell the base model OnePlus 9 Pro in North America.

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How Wisconsin’s Brad Davison found ‘biggest fan’ and future wife in basketball coach Tyra Buss | Wisconsin Badgers Men’s Basketball

The two have been together for a little less than a year but on each other’s radars for longer. Davison is entering his fifth season on the UW roster and Buss graduated from Indiana University in 2018 after playing four seasons for the Hoosiers — she even helped IU to a WNIT championship.

Their relationship began when Buss, 25, reached out to Davison, 22, on Instagram after hearing about him from a mutual follower. Direct messages led to swapping of numbers, which grew into long phone calls, FaceTimes and eventually in person dates. It all led to the pair’s engagement.

A mutual love of basketball and similar family values helped the pair grow a relationship while living 435 miles a part. 

One of Tyra Buss and Brad Davison’s family members films Davison getting down on one knee and proposing to Buss.

Their relationship was strengthened through basketball. Davison referred to Buss as his “biggest fan,” and she shared the same sentiment. They’d watch each other’s games whenever their schedules allowed them.

“I’m doing something that I’m really passionate about and she’s doing something that she’s really passionate about,” Davison said. “Even though we might be doing it on our own time, we kind of approach it as if we’re doing it together. You know, her games are my games, my games are her games.”

Not only are they each other’s biggest fans, but also can be each other’s harshest critics. Buss, now an assistant at Wisconsin-Milwaukee, said she didn’t shy away from pointing out mistakes in Davison’s on court performances last season.

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Gurman: Face ID on the Mac Coming Within a ‘Couple of Years’

Apple plans to bring Face ID to the Mac within the next “couple of years,” respected Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman said today in the latest edition of his Power On newsletter.

In the newsletter, Gurman says that he believes Apple’s ultimate goal is to shift all of its products to Face ID, including the lower-end iPhones such as the iPhone SE and the iPad Air, which feature Touch ID. Gurman says ‌Touch ID‌ remains an important part of Apple’s product lineup, especially for lower-end models, thanks to it being a “cheaper alternative” to Face ID while continuing to provide security to users.

But I expect that to eventually change. It won’t happen this year, but I’d bet Face ID on the Mac is coming within a couple of years. I expect all iPhones and iPads to transition to Face ID within that timeframe, too. Eventually, a camera embedded in the screen would help differentiate Apple’s pricier devices by eliminating the notch at the top. The facial recognition sensor gives Apple two central features: security and augmented reality. Touch ID, more convenient or not, only provides the former.

Gurman had previously reported that as Apple was planning its recently launched redesigned 24-inch iMac, it had initially planned to include Face ID, but that Face ID implementation has been delayed to an upcoming ‌iMac‌ redesign instead. Unlike iPhones and iPads, Mac laptop screens are significantly thinner, making it harder to fit the necessary depth sensors for Face ID, Gurman notes.

Further down the line, Gurman says Apple will eventually embed Face ID into the screens themselves, abandoning the need for a notch on the iPhone. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes such an ‌iPhone‌ may debut as early as 2023. As for the Mac desktop, Apple is continuing to develop a replacement for the 27-inch iMac which may feature a larger screen and a more powerful “M2X” chip. Apple earlier this year paused work on the larger ‌iMac‌ to focus on the 24-inch ‌iMac‌, which was released this past April.

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NY Mets 2021 MLB Draft Review: Rounds 1 through 3

Between July 11th and 13th 2021, the New York Mets selected their future franchise pieces In the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft.  Needless to say, it was an exciting one for the blue and orange!

After 2020’s draft, 20-rounds is a complete breath of fresh air, as the prospect market was HOT!  The Mets began round one in the 10th selection spot. I’ve mentioned before that the Mets are 19th ranked of 30 MLB teams in farm systems, with only 3 of the top 10 prospects being pitchers. You can never have enough pitching. This year, the Mets drafted 12 pitchers alone!

Also, may I remind everyone, 3 months ago I wrote an article titled, “New York Mets: Pitchers to watch for in the 2021 MLB Draft”.  Although I had high hopes, I sort of mentioned that the Mets 10th overall pick did not look hopeful to draft Kumar Rocker… well, the “baseball gods” heard that…

That being said, let’s take a look at the future of the New York Mets.

2021 New York Mets Draft Picks and Summaries

ROUND 1: 10th Pick, RHP Kumar Rocker

A part of Vanderbilt’s 1-2 pitching punch, Kumar Rocker sits 6th overall in Major League Baseball’s top 100 prospect list.  This kid is monstrous on the mound, with a football body type similar to his father who was an NFL player.  Rocker stands 6’5”, 245lbs, displaying strength in a muscular body type with good usage of power from the legs and hips.  He’s a strike-thrower, not afraid to attack the zone, can paint corners, and work top and bottom shelf.  He works a fastball, slider, and changeup. His fastball is most relied on, carries impressive velocity, sitting 95-96mph with great command.  He’s touched up to 99 max on his fastball from time to time.  His slider is his out-pitch and will be very crucial as he climbs the Mets ranks.  His slider can be used like a curveball as well, changing movement, direction, and placement. His changeup was very absent from his game repertoire; it’s a usual back-pocket option but not a needed one.

Rocker has started 39 career games for Vanderbilt, going 28-10 over 236 and 2/3 innings, 321 strikeouts with only 68 walks. Rocker finished the 2021 season with a 2.73 ERA.  His career headlines also were impressive, being named Baseball America’s Freshman of the Year, 2019 College World Series Most Outstanding Player, and he also threw a no-hitter in 2019.

Rocker is a strikeout machine and considered elite; this was a 10th round steal by the Mets, and truly is a boost for the future of this organization.

ROUND 2: 46TH Pick: RHP Calvin Ziegler

The New York Mets round 2 selection (46th overall) is a fairly familiar face.  Right-hander Calvin Ziegler was their pick, the top pitching prospect in all of Canada.  I spent time scouting Ontario and eastern Canada; Ziegler competed in the Canadian Premier Baseball League with the Great Lakes Canadians which I coached against.  Watching this kid was like watching magic; high schooler throwing 97mph? Yep, unheard of.  Aside from the CPBL, Ziegler was throwing for the TNXL Academy in Florida, prepping for the Draft.  He was a commit to Auburn University.

He’s ranked 268th of 500 top-ranked prospects by Baseball America, and 134th on MLB Pipeline.  Ziegler is a right-hander with a ton of talent.  He’s 6’0”, 205lbs, tall with an athletic build from top to bottom.  He has a loose arm, repeats his delivery well with solid fundamentals and arm action.  Ziegler is known for his fastball; better yet he’s known for the drastic increase in fastball velocity between 2019 and present.  We’ve seen 89-91 maximum transpire to 91-94 average, with a top-velocity of 97mph. His fastball is his hottest tool currently, with great command and ability to move around the zone.  His curveball is a well-hooking breaking ball between 82-84mph that can be thrown for strikes, accompanied by his most dominant option, the slider. His changeup is also complimentary to his repertoire.

Ziegler will be a key took for the future of the Mets on the pitching side.  He recently signed his contract and is excited to start the journey!

ROUND 3: 81st Pick: RHP Dominic Hamel

Another arm to the system, out of Dallas Baptist University, right-handed pitcher, Dominic Hamel.  The 96th ranked prospect by MLB is impressive on the rapsodo charts.  Hamel is an overall 50 on the 20-80 scale, however, spin rates on his pitches are phenomenal.  He throws a fastball, maxing 96mph which can touch all of the strike box.  His curveball breaks well, shoots downward into and off the zone.  The slider bites late in the early 80s with good late-breaking action, and the changeup works low with good velocity reduction.  He’s struck out 136 batters over 91.2 innings going 13-2.  The Mets can see good innings out of this kid in the near future.

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Amazon Set to Accept Bitcoins, Develop Crypto Strategy

While there are big companies that do accept cryptocurrencies as payments, Amazon is not one of them, perhaps because of its unpredictable volatility. Yet the company is about to change its attitude towards cryptocurrencies and even plans to develop a special cryptocurrency and blockchain strategy. 

Business Insider has found an Amazon job listing that seeks a leader who will develop the retailer’s Digital Currency and Blockchain strategy as well as a product roadmap. The future employee of Amazon will be a part of The Amazon Payment Acceptance & Experience Team is responsible for ‘how Amazon’s customers pay on Amazon’s sites and through Amazon’s services around the globe,’ which pretty much implies that one of the world’s biggest retailers will start accepting cryptocurrency as payments sometimes in the future. 

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