Ring’s $199 security system will finally ship next month

Way back in October of last year, Ring announced “Ring Protect” — a modular, no contract, DIY home security system.

After a few delays, a bit of legal drama, and Ring being acquired for a billion dollars by Amazon, the alarm is finally about to ship — albeit with a slightly different (better!) name.

Ring Protect has been redubbed as the more intuitive Ring Alarm — a better name if only because competitor Nest has both a security product and a totally different product (a smoke detector) called Nest Protect.

Ring’s base level alarm kit starts at $199, which includes a keypad (for arming/disarming the system), one door/window sensor, a motion detector, and a range extender. You’ll probably want to add more components, and, fortunately, they’re relatively cheap: another door sensor, for example, is $20 bucks, while the motion detectors are $30.

Nest’s competing security system packs a few tricks that Ring’s doesn’t (Nest combined the door/motion sensors into one, for example, and it’s got a fancy RFID system for PIN free disarming) but it also costs $200 more… and that’s after a $100 price drop that, presumably not by coincidence, just happened yesterday.

The system doesn’t require any sort of contract — but if you want professional monitoring, it’ll be $10 bucks a month. That’s a pretty good deal, especially because if you’ve got any of Ring’s cameras (like its smart doorbell, or its floodlight cameras), that plan includes unlimited video storage for all of’em.

Ring says it’s got more products on the way to expand the system, including smoke/carbon monoxide detectors and flood sensors.

Ring’s security system is up for pre-order now and, if all goes as planned, will start shipping on July 4th.

This functional pinball machine is built entirely of LEGO

I’ve spent a good chunk of my life piecing together various LEGO projects… but even the craziest stuff I’ve built pales in comparison to this. It’s a fully functioning pinball machine built entirely out of official LEGO parts, from the obstacles on the playfield, to the electronic brains behind the curtain, to the steel ball itself.

Creator Bre Burns calls her masterpiece “Benny’s Space Adventure,” theming the machine around LEGO’s classic ‘lil blue space man. It’s made up of more than 15,000 LEGO bricks, multiple Mindstorms NXT brains working in unison, steel castor balls borrowed from a Mindstorms kit, plus lights and motors repurposed from a bunch of other sets. Bre initially set out to build the project for exhibition at the LEGO fan conference BrickCon in October of last year, and it’s just grown and grown ever since.

Bre told the LEGO-enthusiast site Brothers Brick that she’s spent somewhere between 200 and 300 hours so far on this project. Want to know more? They’ve got a great breakdown of the entire project right over here.

Looks like Google is changing Android’s gun emoji into a water gun

Back in 2016, Apple swapped out the graphic used for its gun emoji, replacing the realistically drawn handgun with a bright green water gun.

Just a few days ago, Twitter followed suit.

And now, it seems, so will Google . The gun emoji on Android will likely soon appear as a bright orange and yellow super soaker lookalike.

As first noted by Emojipedia, Google has just swapped the graphics in its open Noto Emoji library on GitHub. These are the Emoji that Android uses by default, so the same change will presumably start to roll out there before too long.

At this point, Google making this change seemed inevitable. It seemed likely to happen as soon Apple made the jump; once others started following suit (Twitter earlier this week, and Samsung with the release of the Galaxy S9) it became a certainty.

It’s a matter of clarity in communication. If a massive chunk of people (iOS users) can send a cartoony water toy in a message that another massive chunk of people (Android users) receive as a realistically drawn handgun, there’s room for all sorts of trouble and confusion. Apple wasn’t going to reverse course on this one — and now that others have made the change, Google would’ve been the odd one out.

Hidden Amazon page drops hints about a ‘Fire TV Cube’

Rumors have been floating around for a few months now of a new device from Amazon that would mash-up the media streaming capabilities of its Fire TV line with the voice assistant abilities of the Echo. After leaked images turned up showing a cube-shaped device that seemed to fit the bill, people started referring to this still as-of-yet unannounced device as the “Fire TV Cube.”

Sure enough: a seemingly official page has been found tucked away on Amazon.com that mentions a Fire TV Cube, and promises “details coming soon.”

As found by AFTVNews, the placeholder splash page offers up little beyond the promise of eventual details. It’s got a big ol’ header that says “What is Fire TV Cube?”, a button to let you sign up for more details and… well, that’s about it.

There’s also a mention of a “Fire TV Cube” on this page, tucked away in Amazon’s account management backend to let folks toggle their subscriptions to any one of the dozens of newsletters/email campaigns that Amazon sends out.

According to the original leaks, the Fire TV Cube would have the speaker, far-field microphones and LED light bar of an Echo and the 4K video-capable guts of a Fire TV, allowing you to hook it up to your TV and have one device doing double the duties.

In other words: While there’s still no official word on when (or if!) this thing will actually ship, it definitely looks like they’re prepping for something behind the scenes.

California OSHA is looking into injury reports at Tesla

After a report by Reveal suggested that Tesla was underreporting workplace injuries at its Fremont plant, Tesla responded with a blog post calling the report “completely false” and pinning it all up as a “calculated disinformation campaign.”

Now California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (otherwise known as Cal/OSHA) is looking into things at the factory.

As first noted by Bloomberg, the agency won’t give specifics on why it’s looking into Tesla — but in a comment sent our way, they start off by mentioning the aforementioned report.

Here’s the statement sent to us by Cal/OSHA spokesperson Erika Monterroza:

Cal/OSHA takes seriously reports of workplace hazards and allegations of employers’ underreporting recordable work-related injuries and illnesses on the Log 300. Cal/OSHA currently has an open inspection at Tesla. While we do not disclose details of open inspections, Cal/OSHA’s inspections typically include a review of the employer’s Log 300, as well as a review to ensure that serious injuries are reported directly to Cal/OSHA within eight hours as required by law. Cal/OSHA’s regulations define a serious injury or illness as one that requires employee hospitalization for more than 24 hours for other than medical observation, or in which a part of the body is lost or permanent disfigurement occurs.

The “Log 300” mentioned here is part of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which requires employers with ten or more full time employees to report any serious workplace-related injury or illness, keeping said records for five years.

In a statement to Jalopnik regarding the investigation, Tesla notes that “Cal-OSHA is required to investigate any claims that are made, regardless of whether they have merit or are baseless (as we believe these are),” but that they’d be providing their “full cooperation”

We’ve reached out to Tesla for additional comment, but the company had not responded at the time of publishing. We’ll update this post if we hear back.

Boosted’s new electric skateboard is shorter and cheaper

It’s been about 6 years since Boosted first showed up with its electric longboard and its oh-so-orange wheels, but the company is back with the next logical step: a cheaper, shorter board.

The company is also revamping its longboards, with two new models on the way in the coming months.

The Shortboards

First up, the shortboard(s). The company is planning on shipping two variations of its new shortboard: the $749 Boosted Mini S, and the $999 Mini X.

Both boards come in at 29.5″ long (versus the 38″ of their existing Dual+ longboard), with the primary differences being max distance and max speed: the Mini S caps out at 18 mph and can go up to 7 miles, while the slightly heavier Mini X can go a tick faster and a whole lot further with a max speed of 20 mph and up to 14 miles of range.

These shortboards aren’t quite as fast as the longboards, but 18/20 mph on a (generally less forgiving) shortboard is still terrifyingly fast. As with the longboards, you can limit the speed with the handheld remote while you’re getting comfortable with it.

The shortboard’s deck is more concave than the company’s previous boards, giving you a better sense of where your feet are on the board at any given time. It’s got a nice fat kicktail to help with pivoting it around in tight spots, or to let you lift those front wheels over a crack in the sidewalk. The wheels are big (80mm) and soft, which should help you avoid having your day(/bones) ruined by that little pebble you didn’t see.

The Mini S weighs 15 lbs, while the X comes in at just shy of 17 — both definitely heavier than a standard skateboard, but light enough to pick up and carry when you get to your destination.

The Mini S should start shipping this month, with the Mini X shipping in June.

The Longboards

As noted above, the company is also overhauling its longboard lineup. It’s retiring the existing Dual+ line, replacing it with two different long models: the $1399 Boosted Plus, and the $1599 Boosted Stealth.

Both boards have a max range of 14 miles, making the last generation’s “extended range” battery (previously a $200 upgrade) the standard option. They both weigh roughly 17 lbs, and have big ol’ 85mm wheels.

The difference between the two? Boosted Plus tops out at 22mph, while Stealth bumps the max speed up to 24mph with a fifth riding mode built into the remote. It might not seem like a huge difference on paper, but 2 more mph feels like a whole lot when it’s happening to a piece of wood under your feet. The Stealth board also ghosts out the appearance a bit, with an all grey deck and grey wheels instead of the signature orange.

Worth noting: the hardware across all the boards is now made by Boosted; they’re making their own wheels, building their own custom decks from a new, lighter poplar/fiberglass composite, and CNC milling their own trucks out of aluminum for the sake of strength.

Boosted says the new longboards should ship by early June.

Android Auto now works without wires if you have the right hardware

Android Auto — Google’s system for powering your car’s dash display from your phone, and the company’s answer to Apple’s CarPlay — is going wireless. You can leave your phone in your bag, and it’ll still be able to push your apps and content to your in-dash screen.

Alas, there’s a catch: To get it all working wirelessly at this point, you’ll need to have some pretty specific gear.

You’ll need the right phone (Pixel or Pixel XL, Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL, Nexus 5X or Nexus 6P) and the right head unit — and for now, that means one of just a handful of units announced by JVC/Kenwood earlier this year.

The list of compatible devices will grow in time (Google says to expect more “this year”) — but if you want wireless right this second, the options are quite limited.

Here’s the new trailer for Solo: A Star Wars Story

Yesterday afternoon, word started spreading that a new — and perhaps final — trailer for Solo: A Star Wars Story would land this evening. Sometime during American Idol, they said… of course without saying exactly when.

Turns out: now.

You can see it here:

I had my doubts after the last trailer, but I’m loving this one. Donald Glover as young Lando is just perfect.

The trailer roll-out for Solo started a bit later than most expected, presumably because of the relatively late director swap out. Ron Howard took over the film’s metaphorical cockpit in June of last year — about four months into production — after the original directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (also the directors of The Lego Movie, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and 21 Jump Street) were taken off the project. Howard’s changes, while still mostly a mystery, reportedly involved weeks of reshoots.

Howard tweeted at the end of March that his edits were “locked” – as of this morning, meanwhile, they were mixing the musical score.

Whatever Howard ended up changing, the film will almost certainly end up as yet another point of debate amongst the fanbase. When you’re tinkering with the backstory of a character like Han Solo (and Lando!), with fans that have watched the originals a billion times, contention is a given.

Twitter delays API change that could break Tweetbot, Twitterific, etc.

This morning, the developers of third-party Twitter clients Tweetbot, Twitterific, Tweetings and Talon banded together to highlight upcoming API changes that could potentially break the way their apps work. As you might expect, their collective user base — a base largely made up of folks who need more out of their Twitter app than the official one offers (or folks who, you know, just want a native Mac app after Twitter killed the official one) — got loud.

In response, Twitter has just announced plans to delay the API change for the time being.

Originally scheduled for June 19th, 2018, the API change would see Twitter’s “streaming” API replaced with its new “Account Activity” API.

The problem? The aforementioned developers point out that, with just two months before the change was set to be made, they and other third-party devs hadn’t gotten access to the new API — and changes like this take time to implement correctly.

Meanwhile, even once implemented, the new API seems to have limitations that could keep these apps from working as they do today, potentially breaking things like push notifications and automatic timeline refreshes. You can read the developer group’s breakdown here.

Twitter isn’t giving a new date for when it expects to retire the streaming API, but says that it’ll give “at least 90 days notice.”

Niantic to settle Pokémon GO Fest lawsuit for over $1.5M

Back in July of last year, Niantic organized an outdoor festival focusing on its augmented reality game, Pokémon GO. In theory, players would come from all around for a day of wandering Chicago’s Grant Park, meeting other players and catching new/rare Pokémon.

It… did not go as planned. Widespread cellular connectivity and logistical issues brought the game (and thus the event itself) to a halt before the doors even opened. People booed. People threw things at the stage. People sued.

While Niantic quickly announced that they’d be refunding all ticket costs (and giving players $100 of in-game currency), that still left many of the estimated 20,000 attendees out the cost of hotels, transportation, etc.

Niantic is settling a class action suit surrounding the festival, TechCrunch has learned, paying out $1,575,000 dollars to reimburse various costs attendees might have picked up along the way. Things like airfare, hotel costs, up to two days of parking fees, car rental, mileage and tolls.

According to documents filed in a Chicago court, an official website for the settlement should be up by May 25th, 2018, with an email sent to let attendees know. The documents also note a few potential catches: those claiming part of the settlement will need to have checked in to GO Fest through the game (presumably to prevent those who sold their tickets for a markup from getting more money out of it), and anyone claiming more than $107 in expenses will need to have receipts.

If there’s money left after all claims, lawyer fees, etc, the documents note that the remaining balance will be split evenly and donated to the Illinois Bar foundation and the nonprofit organization Chicago Run. “In no event will money revert back to Niantic” it reads.