Bag Week 2018: Timbuk2’s Launch featherweight daypack is tough and tiny

If you need something small, lightweight and indestructible, Timbuk2’s Lightweight Launch Backpack ($129) might be right up your alley. The pack, constructed from famously tough Tyvek, can fit a 13″ laptop comfortably and plenty else. At only 18L, it sounds small, but due to its drawstring top design and large main compartment, it holds more than enough to make it a functional all-purpose daypack for work or play.

The Launch’s distinct look will be what makes up most people’s minds about this pack. Beyond the drawstring design and this fun lemon-lime interior color, the Launch doesn’t have too many bells and whistles. Still, it checks important boxes with the inclusion of stuff like a water bottle holder, a sternum strap, and weather resistant build material.

If you’re a fan of tough lightweight packs, know that the Launch’s Tyvek material gives it more structure than most stuff made out of this kind of material. That’s both a good and bad thing: more structure is great so your pack doesn’t just collapse into a little pile but because the Tyvek lacks any stretch whatsoever both its front pocket and the top compartment that sits on top of the main part of the pack can be a little tricky to dig things in and out of.

Happily, the Launch holds a laptop very well thanks to a padded compartment accessible via a full-length side zipper — always the best way to access a laptop in a backpack! The laptop area is a nice touch for such a lightweight pack and makes Timbuk2’s Launch a unique, super light laptop pack for everyday use so long as you’re not carrying too much.

If you’re a longtime Timbuk2 fan know that the pack both looks and feels different from most of Timbuk2’s classic designs and unfortunately doesn’t come in the bright, playful tri-color look that some of its classic messengers do. Still, if you’re into more natural, subdued tones and really don’t want your day-to-day pack to weigh you down unnecessarily, Timbuk2’s Launch is totally worth a look.

What it is: A small but not too small Tyvek daypack that carries a laptop well.

What it isn’t: A Timbuk2 design that you’re used to.

Read more reviews from TechCrunch Bag Week 2018.

from iFeeltech IT News Mix4 https://techcrunch.com/2018/06/22/timbuk2-launch-backpack-review/

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Bag Week 2018: P.MAI’s women’s leather laptop bag is luxury packed with utility

Welcome to Bag Week 2018. Every year your faithful friends at TechCrunch spend an entire week looking at bags. Why? Because bags — often ignored but full of our important electronics — are the outward representations of our techie styles, and we put far too little thought into where we keep our most prized possessions.

I’ve always preferred carrying a backpack to work instead of a purse. Like many women, I’ve accepted that it means sacrificing style for comfort and utility. There are tons of women’s backpacks on the market with all sorts of colors, designs, materials and overall aesthetics.

But the minute you look for a quality, women’s leather laptop backpack the options are sparse and divided into two camps. They seem to either be casual in aesthetic and centered around a utilitarian design, or straight off the runway and built more for show than function.

P.MAI surprised me in its ability to find an uncompromising middle ground between a luxury aesthetic and practical utility.

Phuong Mai founded P.MAI after years of working in the world of management consulting. It is a world where consultants are expected to always be slightly better dressed than their clients, and they are constantly on the road traveling between client projects.

Mai’s purse caused back pain, and her doctor recommended switching to a backpack. She couldn’t find a backpack that checked all the boxes — feminine yet durable, comfortable yet sleek, utilitarian and still beautiful. So she bootstrapped P.MAI to create it.

She started by focusing on sourcing from suppliers with premium fabrics and leathers to blend beauty with durability. The backpack is constructed from full grain calf leather, two-tone nylon body fabric and poly lining. The fabrics are coated with PU to ensure water-resistance.

The design is sleek with no external protruding pockets. Instead there is one zip pocket large enough for a passport on the front, and compartments designed for the modern, professional woman inside. The padded laptop compartment fits up to a 15-inch laptop. There also are three internal slip pockets and one internal zip pocket to store and organize all of your belongings. These are complemented by an elastic lined water (or wine) bottle holder, and an internal key ring snaphook for your matching P.MAI wristlet.

The external details make the bag durable and travel friendly. There are four gold metal feet to prevent scratches on the bottom of the bag. There also is a built-in trolley strap, so it can easily be attached to the top of a roller suitcase. The top handle makes it easy to pick up like a handbag and slide the backpack on or off of a roller bag. While the external gold hardware is sleek and beautiful, I wish it included small holes suitable for a travel lock.

Mai incorporated her doctor’s advice into the design’s comfort factor. The shoulder straps are adjustable to properly distribute weight. They also have hidden airmesh padding to cushion your shoulders.

While it’s hard to find me wearing any color other than black, if black leather on black nylon isn’t your thing there are three other color combinations from which to choose; black leather and gray nylon, navy blue leather and navy blue nylon or cognac leather and navy blue nylon.

By designing a bag for women that blends a luxury aesthetic with comfortable utility, the P.MAI bag quickly rose to the the “Most Wished for” laptop backpack on Amazon last holiday season. Premium materials and quality design don’t come cheap. Still, the $450 price-tag may keep this one on the wish-list for now.

P.MAI is a refreshing laptop bag designed for the practical and health needs of professional women, while making them feel and look stylish.

bag week 2018

from iFeeltech IT News Mix4 https://techcrunch.com/2018/06/22/bag-week-2018-p-mais-womens-leather-laptop-bag-is-luxury-packed-with-utility/

Apple will repair busted keyboards on recent MacBooks and MacBook Pros for free

Back in 2016, Apple redesigned the MacBook Pro’s keyboard. It… hasn’t gone as well as they probably hoped.

Complaints quickly started popping up of failing keys. Some keys had a tendency to get stuck in place; others move freely, but simply don’t respond.

Two years and a lawsuit later, Apple is officially acknowledging the issue with a free keyboard repair program.

And if you already paid Apple to fix your keyboard in the past? Give them a call. According to this support page, they’re planning on refunding previous repair charges.

Apple says the following models are eligible:

  • MacBook (Retina, 12-­inch, Early 2015)
  • MacBook (Retina, 12­-inch, Early 2016)
  • MacBook (Retina, 12-­inch, 2017)
  • MacBook Pro (13­-inch, 2016, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (13-­inch, 2017, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (13-­inch, 2016, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (13-­inch, 2017, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (15-­inch, 2016)
  • MacBook Pro (15-­inch, 2017)

To get the process started, you’ll have to take your affected laptop into an authorized service provider or an Apple retail store, or mail the whole thing in. They’ll examine it to make sure that it’s actually the keyboard’s fault (read: to make sure you didn’t spill a cup of juice on it or something), then either replace the affected key or swap out the whole board. Alas, this repair isn’t often a quick one — so expect to be without your laptop for a few days.

And before you panic that your warranty is about to expire: Apple says these keyboard repairs will be covered from four years after your original purchase date, regardless of warranty status. With design issues like this I’d hope for something a bit longer than that, but it’s a start.

from iFeeltech IT News Mix4 https://techcrunch.com/2018/06/22/apple-will-repair-busted-keyboards-on-recent-macbook-and-macbook-pros-for-free/

VC Brian O’Malley jumps from Accel to Forerunner Ventures

Brian O’Malley may be the most-poached venture capitalist in Silicon Valley. While rising through the ranks at the global investment firm Battery Ventures, where O’Malley had led deals in Hotel Tonight among others, he was plucked out of the firm by Accel Partners in 2013, where both O’Malley and Accel thought he could be even more successful.

Now, fast forward five years, and O’Malley is announcing today (through Forbes) that he just joined Forerunner Ventures, the top e-commerce investing firm launched in 2010 by founder Kirsten Green.

That O’Malley is willing to make moves is hardly a knock. For someone whose job it is to create and manage promising portfolios, he seems to be managing his career with that same, smart mindset.

The move also reflects well on Forerunner, a much younger firm than storied Accel but whose star has been soaring in recent years, thanks to early bets on companies like Bonobos (sold to Walmart), Jet.com (sold to Walmart), Dollar Shave Club (sold to Unilever), and Hotel Tonight, among many other known and growing brands, including the cosmetics company Glossier, the athleisure-wear company Outdoor Voices, and the home furnishings company Serena & Lily.

Indeed, though Forerunner seems to be doing just fine with its current team, one can imagine that adding O’Malley to its ranks will only make fundraising easier — and our bet is the firm is fundraising right around now, based on the close of its current, third, fund, in the summer of 2016.

You can learn more about O’Malley’s newest move here. In the meantime, if you’re interested in some of what’s involved in switching firms in Silicon Valley, O’Malley had given us some great insight into these moves back in 2015, where he discussed what a VC needs to factor in when joining a new team, what happens to his or her board seats, and much more.

from iFeeltech IT News Mix4 https://techcrunch.com/2018/06/22/vc-brian-omalley-jumps-from-accel-to-forerunner-ventures/

A look back at the best tech ads of the last 35 years

Last week the Association of Independent Commercial Producers announced the winners of its annual awards honoring the best moving image marketing of the year and Apple’s “Welcome Home” ad took home the prize for Advertising Excellence in the single commercial category. Directed by Spike Jonze, the person behind movies like Her and Being John Malkovich, the musical short film follows the journey of a young woman, FKA Twigs, as she returns home from a challenging work day to an empty apartment. After asking Siri to “play something [she’d] like” her world is literally transformed as the music of Anderson .Paak’s “Til It’s Over” spills out of her HomePod.

With stunning visuals (most of which were not CGI) and captivating choreography, Jonze breathes life into a product that got mixed reviews after its release in February. This made us think, what other tech commercials have grabbed our attention in the last 35 years and transformed how we think about technology? Here’s a few of our favorites.

 

“1984”

It’s hard to talk about transformative tech ads without mentioning this one first. This Super Bowl ad from 1984 was directed by Ridley Scott (who directed Alien in 1979) and was the world’s introduction to the Macintosh personal computer. The ad draws some not-so-subtle connections between PC consumerism and soulless corporate office spaces of the 80s to George Orwell’s dystopian ‘1984.’

In the commercial, a depiction of Big Brother speaks hypnotically to a mass of identical workers as woman in bright colors streaks through the crowd, mallet in hand. With Olympian effort, she sends it flying into the screen, disrupting the status quo of personal computing and promising the world that with the Macintosh “1984 won’t be like ‘1984′.” 

 

“Dude, You’re Getting a Dell”

Noticeably less high-concept than the introduction of the Macintosh, this 26 commercial campaign still captured a lot of attention in the earlier 2000s. The spots feature a character named Steven – a stereotypical easy-going, cool teenager who has a particular knack for charming parents into buying Dell computers for their families. A popular spot for Dell, the commercials even launched the star Ben Curtis into a little bit of fame himself. The actor recently appeared in a 2017 off-Broadway show ‘The Crusade of Connor Stephens.’

 

“Get a Mac”

Confession time: I loved these commercials as a kid. Like, binge-watched-them-on-Apple .com loved them. This campaign ran for four years between 2006 and 2009 and featured suit-clad John Hodgman as a PC and hoodie-toting Justin Long as a Mac. The commercials put these two computers in direct conversation with each other (quite literally) and highlighted different features of Mac computers (e.g. iMovie, Time Machine and being dual compatible with Windows) against its PC counterparts.

Not biting or hostile, Mac came across as laid-back and creative — everything Apple was telling its customers they could be — and left PC flustered in its wake. In 2010 Adweek declared this campaign the best in the first decade of a new century.

 

“Can You Hear Me Now?”

Stepping outside the world of personal computing, we can’t fail to mention this famous Verizon campaign. These spots ran between 2002 and 2011 and featured a character named Test Man, decked out in a Verizon jacket and large glasses, who traveled around to test the strength of Verizon’s network. Ever thorough, he consistently asks the tech on the other side of the line “can you hear me now?” In 2002 Test Man won an award from Entertainment Weekly for “Most Mysterious Pitchman.”

While the Verizon campaign ended a little under ten years ago, the character has been recently revived — for Sprint. As another campaign of my childhood, this betrayal still stings.

 

“Parisian Love”

You might want to get some tissues ready for this one. This minimalist commercial aired during the Super Bowl in 2010 and follows the love story of a couple from first their first meeting, to marriage and starting a family; all within the window of a Google search. The ad was one of the most popular aired during the game and was actually designed by a handful of ad and design students known as ‘Google 5.’ According to AdAge, the commercial concept was sparked by a comment in a Google brief to “remind people what they love about Google search” and a maxim by Google Creative Lab VP Robert Wong that “the best results don’t show up in a search engine, they show up in your life.”

 

Did we miss any ads that changed how you thought about technology? Let us know in the comments!

from iFeeltech IT News Mix4 https://techcrunch.com/2018/06/22/a-look-back-at-the-best-tech-ads-of-the-last-35-years/

Reddit launches a ‘News’ tab into beta testing

Reddit is rolling out its “news” tab into beta, the company announced this week. The expansion follows on Reddit’s initial test of a news-related feature that began this May, when an alpha version shipped to some users of Reddit’s iOS app. At the time, Reddit explained it wanted to give news its own dedicated home on its site in order to make it easier for those with a lot of subreddit subscriptions to find the news without having to hunt around.

To determine what’s newsworthy, Reddit says it first figured out which subreddits were engaging with news the most. It did this by looking at the most-clicked posts by domain in the subreddits. The company came up with a list of around 1,000 domains from media publishers focused on news. This list was used to help it surface those communities where news was regularly discussed.

To be clear, the domain list was only used to find the appropriate subreddits where news was often discussed – it doesn’t mean Reddit is limiting news stories it surfaces to those 1,000 domains.

In addition, Reddit has a few other requirements for the communities featured in the News tab. They must have active moderation, abide by Reddit’s content policies and its guidelines for healthy communities, and the community has to require the post title accurately reflects the article title.

The communities included in the News section of Reddit discuss a variety of topics, across business, science, sports, gaming, entertainment, tech news, and more – popular categories across Reddit as a whole. The majority of the posts are link posts, with the exception of some sports news where video is allowed.

The News tab itself then organizes the posts by category, so users can filter the news for themselves. And users can further configure the tab to their own liking.

While Reddit users are often known to actually break news by (sometimes unwittingly) being the first to spot things, the News tab is focused on showcasing the work from news publications.

It’s more of a scannable list of top stories with an active comments section. That’s something that you don’t find on a number of news sites these day, as many have removed commenting. Meanwhile, a lot of discussion around the news takes place on social media, like Facebook and Twitter – but it’s not necessarily centralized.

Given that the product is still in beta, Reddit is still listening to user feedback about the new feature.

As you’d expect, there’s a lot of it – from “this is a bad idea” to “can we see the list?” to “this site is such a joke” to “this is actually controlling the bubble” to “this sounds like a sales pitch to someone who has never used Reddit” to this feels like another ‘Facebook’ style change that nobody asked for” to completely unrelated complaints about other issues.

It could be that Reddit is hoping to attract some attention to its app in the wake of Facebook pulling Trending Topics – its news discovery feature – from its social network.

A larger audience of non-Reddit users may now be looking for another way to easily browse news on mobile – so Reddit thinks it may as well filter some of its existing content and pop it into a tab for easy access. But it’s not likely that people will turn to Reddit for news, especially when there are formidable alternatives like Google News and Apple News.

The feature is in beta for the time being. The company has not said when it’s publicly launching.

 

 

from iFeeltech IT News Mix4 https://techcrunch.com/2018/06/22/reddit-launches-a-news-tab-into-beta-testing/

Konsus looks to give companies a way to get specially-designed documents in under a day

Fredrik Thomassen as a consultant used to have the resources to offload the annoying project tasks — like making PowerPoint presentations — but now that it’s gone, he and his team wanted to make that available for everyone.

Now the startup, called Konsus, wants to turn that around even faster. Konsus is a design marketplace where companies can quickly post design projects that they need for various parts of their jobs, like presentations, and designers can pick up those jobs and submit their work back — a task that could take up a lot of unnecessary time for an employee that might be better spent working on other parts of their job. Konsus said it is compressing that even further by now looking to provide a 12-hour turnaround for those companies. The company launched out of Y Combinator in 2016.

“[Employees] want to be valuable and spend time on core tasks,” Thomassen said. “The average knowledge worker, depending on various specifics, spends around around 40% of that time on non-core tasks that should be outsourced. That’s the 40% we’re going after, and people quite readily understand it. Some companies have in-house design agencies and so on, and they are 3 or 4 times as expensive as we are, and they typically want to work on these larger or more grand projects and don’t want to work on the small projects that range from 10 hours to 15 hours. Most of the projects we do are these small, nominal projects that people would have had to do themselves.”

Konsus hires account managers and project managers handling the relationships with the customers to ensure that they’re getting the quality they need when they are posting projects like PowerPoint presentations onto the site. But Thomassen also said there are plenty of examples of those firms finding designers and contractors that they’ve decided to bring o full-time, and he’s fine with the startup being seen as a springboard for contractors that want to polish their skills for working with western clients — and even end up with a full-time job after that. A lot of the designers are coming in from eastern Europe, southeast Asia, and other parts of the world that aren’t necessarily on the radar of these western firms.

Like many other modern services and marketplaces, Konsus hopes to come in at the bottom of a company and work its way up. One person or a team from a larger corporation will discover it, start using it, and then eventually the startup might track that firm down and start talking about a custom team and dedicated emails. Then the outsourcers working for that firm goes through a background chec, signs confidentiality agreements, and goes through training on corporate branding material. Konsus’ revenue comes partly from subscriptions and people pre-paying to get a team, and the other half a pay-as-you-go model where firms get a rate and Konsus takes a commission.

“If you look at [big consulting firms], they have a similar solution as we have, and you can get support for all kinds of services — data entry, powerpoint, various graphic design tasks — that make life much much easier,” Thomassen said. “You go home from work and then you get it back in the morning, it becomes part of your workflow. That’s what we wanted to build for everyone else. Freelancers come to us from all corners of the world, they apply on our website, and we have our own recruiter work with them. We get around 5,000 to 10,000 people who apply, and we accept 10-20 depending on how many we need. The bar is extremely high.”

Of course, given that these are the kinds of tasks that firms might outsource without such a platform, Konsus has to potentially deal with larger consulting firms like Accenture, and there are plenty of startups looking to create an online labor marketplace that might not be targeting design just yet. But as those platforms start to put together a lot of potential customers, they’ll likely start asking for tools like Konsus — which means the company is going to have to figure out ways to outcompete early.

The company has raised $1.7 million from Sam Altman, the Slack Fund, Acequia Capital, Paul Buchheit, Geoff Ralston, John Collison, and Liquid2 Ventures.

from iFeeltech IT News Mix4 https://techcrunch.com/2018/06/22/konsus-looks-to-give-companies-a-way-to-get-specially-designed-documents-in-under-a-day/

Your second chance for Startup Battlefield at Disrupt SF

If you missed the deadline last week to apply for the infamous Startup Battlefield at Disrupt SF, have no fear. There is still one more chance at being part of the action!

Out of all of the early-stage companies exhibiting at Disrupt, three Startup Alley companies will have the opportunity to be selected as one of the “Wild Card” winners. You might be wondering, “what is Wild Card”? Wild Card is a Startup Alley exhibiting company that is selected by our TechCrunch editorial team to participate in the renowned Startup Battlefield competition. This year we’re selecting three, and if you are exhibiting in Startup Alley, you could be one of the lucky winners.

Last year at Disrupt NY 2017, RecordGram got a table in Startup Alley, where they ended up being selected as one of the Wild Card companies and ultimately went on to win the Startup Battlefield competition — and took home $50,000. Guess what? This year, the grand prize of Startup Battlefield at Disrupt SF has been doubled to $100,000!

Plus, you’ll have all the benefits of being a Startup Alley exhibitor, including access to CrunchMatch, Disrupt’s matchmaking service between startups and investors. So far, the investors coming to Disrupt SF this year have investment funds in excess of $4 billion, and we’re expecting more to sign up in the coming weeks. Also, over the course of the three-day conference, there will be curated tracks of content across four unique stages in 12 different verticals, plus tons of educational workshops and a plethora of networking opportunities.

So, if your company is pre-series A, Startup Alley at Disrupt SF is the place for you. Secure your exhibitor package here before we sell out!

from iFeeltech IT News Mix4 https://techcrunch.com/2018/06/22/your-second-chance-for-startup-battlefield-at-disrupt-sf/