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Gear for getting better at your side gig – TechCrunch

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This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, it may earn affiliate commissions that support its work.

Gear for getting better at your side gig – TechCrunchIn this day and age, either you have a side gig or you know someone who does. The type of work that’s done outside of your 9 to 5 is one thing that sets side hustles apart—the type of gear that’s used is what can help you get better.

From vlogging to graphic design to music production, accessories and must-have equipment should come with features and capabilities that enhance your projects. Here are a few of our favorite picks fit for upping your side gig skills.

Podcasting: Yeti USB Microphone

The Yeti by Blue, our top pick for USB microphones, sits above the competition because it offers the best overall audio, build and included features. It’s a good option for podcasters because its balance of bass and frequency peaks help to make a wide range of voices sound clear and captivating. It has a dial that can be set to four different pickup patterns, which comes in handy when conducting interviews with multiple people. Whether used for live or pre-recorded voice work, its zero-latency and mic-gain control features allow you to do most anything you want — and well.

Gear for getting better at your side gig – TechCrunch

Of all the microphones we tested, the Blue Yeti makes it easiest to sound good on a podcast, live stream, video call, or most any other kind of recording. (Photo: Nick Guy)

Vlogging: Sony RX Mark IV Camera and GorillaPod 1K Kit Tripod

High-quality video is no longer something that’s only necessary for filmmaking. In our guide for the best vlogging camera and gear, we recommend the Sony RX Mark IV as an also great pick—and the best vlogging camera—for its small size, image stabilization and its ability to record in slow motion. YouTubers and social media video fanatics can easily create top-notch video content recorded at 4K resolution.

Use Wi-Fi and your smartphone as a remote to capture the best selfies with the camera’s flip-up screen and facial recognition feature. Coupled with the flexible GorillaPod 1K Kit Tripod, the camera can be positioned to snap difficult shots.

Gear for getting better at your side gig – TechCrunch

The Sony RX Mark IV’s small size, image stabilization and ability to record in slow motion make it our best pick for a vlogging camera. Photo: Michael Hession

Video and Photo Editing: Dell XPS 15 Laptop

The ports and connections on the Dell XPS 15 Laptop accommodate all types of gear used for capturing and transferring video. In addition to having a huge 4K display, it has a powerful processor and graphics card. This means you’ll spend less time waiting around as large files load and render faster.

One reason that it’s our top pick for video and photo editing laptops is because its keyboard is comfortable enough to use during long editing sessions. The XPS’s trackpad is responsive and its touchscreen is intuitive—two features which contribute to the ease of making precise edits.

Gear for getting better at your side gig – TechCrunch

The Dell’s 4K display and powerful processor and graphics card make this laptop well-suited toward video editing.

Building & Prototyping: CanaKit Raspberry Pi 3 Complete Starter Kit

It’s a lot easier to create hardware prototypes when you have a legitimate starting base. The Raspberry Pi 3, a mini Linux computer, can operate as a starting point and brain of a variety of gadgets. We recommend the CanaKit Raspberry Pi 3 Complete Starter Kit to get going on building anything from a gaming console to a smart-home speaker. The included Raspberry Pi 3 Model B computer has software and general input/output pins for running added lights, sensors, or switches. The kit is also packed with everything you need to begin a project including cables, a power supply, a microSD card, and a case for convenience.

Gear for getting better at your side gig – TechCrunch

The Raspberry Pi 3 Model B. (Photo: Andrew Cunningham)

Music Production: Arturia MiniLab MkII MIDI Keyboard Controller

Listening to music is a favorite pastime for many, creating it is possibly a curiosity for more. You don’t have to break the bank when buying gear that’ll help you take a stab at music production. The Arturia MiniLab MkII is our top pick for MIDI keyboard controllers for beginners and it’s perfect for making electronic music or playing it live. Its compact design is a plus and its pads offer the responsiveness you need, especially when paired with its included software. The MiniLab Mkll comes preconfigured but it’s functions can be customized through a separate app.

Gear for getting better at your side gig – TechCrunch

This set-up for beginners is perfect for making electronic music or playing it live. Photo: Michael Hession

Digital Art: Wacom Intuos Draw

There are endless graphic design software options and it’s helpful to have a tool that seamlessly pairs with them. The Wacom Intuos Draw, our top pick for drawing tablets for beginners, comes with its own software (Art Rage Lite), and it’s compatible with Windows, macOS and top-rated art programs. Artists who are just starting out will find the tablet’s grid pattern useful.

It connects to other devices via USB and also comes with a comfortable, customizable pen that can be used for drawing and painting. We like the tablet’s pressure sensitivity and the precision of its pen which will allow for easier detailing and add to the overall quality of your creations.

Gear for getting better at your side gig – TechCrunch

The Wacom Intuos Draw is the top pick for drawing tablets for beginners. Photo: Michael Hession

This guide may have been updated by Wirecutter.

Note from Wirecutter: When readers choose to buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn affiliate commissions that support our work.

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Few Rules Govern Police Use of Facial-Recognition Technology

4 min read

They call Amazon the everything store—and Tuesday, the world learned about one of its lesser-known but provocative products. Police departments pay the company to use facial-recognition technology Amazon says can “identify persons of interest against a collection of millions of faces in real-time.”

More than two dozen nonprofits wrote to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to ask that he stop selling the technology to police, after the ACLU of Northern California revealed documents to shine light on the sales. The letter argues that the technology will inevitably be misused, accusing the company of providing “a powerful surveillance system readily available to violate rights and target communities of color.”

The revelation highlights a key question: What laws or regulations govern police use of the facial-recognition technology? The answer: more or less none.

State and federal laws generally leave police departments free to do things like search video or images collected from public cameras for particular faces, for example. Cities and local departments can set their own policies and guidelines, but even some early adopters of the technology haven’t done so.

Documents released by the ACLU show that the city of Orlando, Florida worked with Amazon to build a system that detects “persons of interest” in real-time using eight public-security cameras. “Since this is a pilot program, a policy has not been written,” a city spokesperson said, when asked whether there are formal guidelines around the system’s use.

“This is a perfect example of technology outpacing the law,” says Jennifer Lynch, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “There are no rules.”

Amazon is not the only company operating in this wide open space. Massachusetts based MorphoTrust provides facial-recognition technology to the FBI, and also markets it to police departments. Detroit police bought similar technology from South Carolina’s Data Works Plus, for a project that looks for violent offenders in footage from gas stations.

The documents released Tuesday provide details about how Orlando, and the sheriff’s department of Oregon’s Washington County use Amazon’s facial recognition technology. Both had previously provided testimonials about the technology for the company’s cloud division.

Orlando got free consulting from Amazon to build out its project, the documents show. In a prior testimonial, Orlando’s chief of police John Mina said that the system could improve public safety and “offer operational efficiency opportunities.” However a city spokesperson told WIRED that “this is very early on and we don’t have data to support that it does or does not work.” The system hasn’t yet been used in investigations, or on imagery of members of the public.

Washington County uses Amazon’s technology to help officers search a database of 300,000 mugshots, using either a desktop computer or a specially built mobile application. Documents obtained by the ACLU also show county employees raising concerns about the security of placing mugshots into Amazon’s cloud storage, and the project being perceived as “the government getting in bed with big data.”

There’s no mention of big data in the US Constitution. It doesn’t provide much protection against facial recognition either, says Jane Bambauer, a law professor at the University of Arizona. Surveillance technology like wiretaps are covered by the Fourth Amendment protections against search and seizure, but most police interest in facial recognition is in applying it to imagery gathered lawfully in public, or to mugshots.

State laws don’t generally have much to say about police use of facial recognition, either. Illinois and Texas are unusual in having biometric privacy laws that can require companies to obtain permission before collecting and sharing data such as fingerprints and facial data, but make exceptions for law enforcement. Lynch of EFF says hearings by the House Oversight Committee last year showed some bipartisan interest in setting limits on law enforcement use of the technology, but the energy dissipated after committee chair Jason Chaffetz resigned last May.

Nicole Ozer, technology and civil liberties director at the ACLU of Northern California, says the best hope for regulating facial recognition for now is pressuring companies like Amazon, police departments, and local communities to set their own limits on use of the technology. “The law moves slowly, but a lot needs to happen here now that this dangerous surveillance is being rolled out,” she says. She says Amazon should stop providing the technology to law enforcement altogether. Police departments should set firm rules in consultation with their communities, she says. In a statement, Amazon said all its customers are bound by terms requiring they comply with the law and “be responsible.” The company does not have a specific terms of service for law enforcement customers.

Some cities have moved to limit use of surveillance. Berkeley, California, recently approved an ordinance requiring certain transparency and consultation steps when procuring or using surveillance technology, including facial recognition. The neighboring city of Oakland recently passed its own law to place oversight on local use of surveillance technology.

Washington County has drawn up guidelines for its use of facial recognition, which the department provided to WIRED. They include a requirement that officers obtain a person’s permission before taking a photo to check their identity, and that officers receive training on appropriate use of the technology before getting access to it. The guidelines also state that facial recognition may be used as investigative tool on “suspects caught on camera.” Jeff Talbot, the deputy spokesperson for the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, said the department is not using the system for “public surveillance, mass surveillance, or for real-time surveillance.”

Ozer and others would like to see more detailed rules and disclosures. They’re worried about evidence that facial recognition and analysis algorithms have been found to be less accurate for non-white faces, and not accurate at all in law enforcement situations. The FBI disclosed in 2017 that its chosen facial-recognition system only had an 85 percent chance of identifying a person within its 50 best guesses from a larger database. A system tested by South Wales Police in the UK during a soccer match last year was only 8 percent accurate.

Lynch of EFF says she believes police departments should disclose accuracy figures for their facial recognition systems, including how they perform on different ethnic groups. She also says that despite the technology’s largely unexamined adoption by local police forces, there’s reason to believe today’s free for all won’t last.

Consider the Stingray devices that many police departments began to quietly use to collect data from cellphones. Amid pressure from citizens, civic society groups, and judges, the Department of Justice and many local departments changed their policies. Some states, such as California, passed laws to protect location information. Lynch believes there could soon be a similar pushback on facial recognition. “I think there is hope,” she says.

Louise Matsakis contributed to this article.


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Luminaries from across Israel’s tech ecosystem are joining us onstage in Tel Aviv – TechCrunch

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Tickets are going fast for our inaugural Tel Aviv event and no one should miss out on the opportunity to see some the nation’s rising stars discuss the challenges and opportunities ahead for mobility technologies.

Hear from some of the architects and creators of Israel’s latest technology marvels like Orit Nissan Messing, the co-founder and Chief Architect of Iguazio. And government officials like Anat Lea Bonshtien, the chairman and director of the Fuel Choices and Smart Mobility Initiative in the Prime Minister’s Office, who are driving mobility technologies forward.

Fiona Darmon, the Chief Operating Officer of one of Israel’s pre-eminent venture funds, JVP, will join us alongside Natalie Refuah, a partner with the growth capital investment firm Viola Growth, to discuss how businesses can scale and make the right moves as they navigate their inevitable international expansion.

They’re all part of a stellar line up that we’ve put together to take the pulse of one of the hottest trends in tech and one that’s increasingly reliant on Israeli technology companies to fulfill the promise of its potential.

These phenomenal speakers will be sharing insights that no one would want to miss, and they’ll be exclusively available to our audience in Tel Aviv.

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Sleep Tight pits kids against monsters from under the bed on July 26

1 min read

When the creepy-crawlies come out from under the bed, some kids might pull the covers over their heads. But not the ones in Sleep Tight. In this twin-stick shooter, you fight back against the bogeyman by building forts and arming yourself with an arsenal of toy weapons. It’s developer We Are Fuzzy’s debut game, and it launches July 26 on PC and Nintendo Switch.

To fight off waves of nighttime monsters, players can choose from a roster of 12 kids, each of whom has their own special perk. For instance, Lynn sports a star-studded astronaut outfit. She just came back from space camp, and she researches new skills faster than others. Wyatt, on the other hand, takes his inspiration from cowboys on the range, and he starts with a buckshot to fend off enemies. Players who prefer to beef up defense can select Rosie the engineer, whose perk enables her to build tougher pillow fort walls.

The new indie studio has triple-A roots, and its team has individually worked on games like Far Cry 5 and Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege. It also recruited Disney illustrator Dylan Ekren, who contributed to Wreck-It Ralph and Zootopia. The veteran talent shows in Sleep Tight’s new trailer, which is brimming with character and polish.

Sleep Tight seems to feature a lot of strategic gameplay and fast-paced shooting, and it’s neat that it has gone for a colorful, Pixar-like aesthetic rather than something gritty or blood-splattered.



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