Nesting Buddy

A Robot Nanny from Asus

Posted In: . By Kirhat

Asus Zenbo
Last 30 May, Taiwanese tech giant Asus took the wraps off Zenbo – an all-singing, all-dancing robot that wants to be an integral part of everyone's connected household.

Zenbo wants to help grandparents remember to take their medication and will call the emergency services if they may slip or fall and it also wants to lend a hand in the kitchen.

It can offer access to recipes, how-to videos and of course capture for posterity and social media photos of the finished dish. And when meal time is over Zenbo can get up and perform to entertain the children while the plates are cleared away and even read them their bedtime story.

The brainchild of Asus's chairman Jonney Shih, Zenbo is being pitched as an affordable robotic computer for every family and one that can offer something to every family member. By giving a web-enabled computer a humanoid face, Asus believes it can make technology less daunting for older consumers.

Rather than use a keyboard and open a browser to search for information or entertainment, they can turn to Zenbo and ask questions or give it commands instead. Zenbo can remotely control a host of smart home devices from TVs to lights, use its screen to show who’s at the front door and can automatically take care of the shopping by ordering everything online.

However, it's the idea that Zenbo can educate and entertain children via interactive stories, video lessons and automatically dimming the bedroom lights when it’s time for bed that might not be for everyone. No matter how vast its library of stories and how well put together its educational games, leaving small children with a robot could end up giving them nightmares.

Still, the demand for what is essentially a robot butler is growing and at US$ 599 Zenbo will cost less than an iPad Pro.


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Chick-fil-A
The strategy of investing more in training and career development has proven to be massively successful for companies like Chick-fil-A.

The anti-gay fastfood chain consistently ranks first in restaurant customer-service surveys. In reviews, customers rave about the restaurants' cleanliness, quick, convenient service, and hardworking employees.

Highly regarded customer service is uncommon in fast food — an industry notorious for paying low wages.

But Chick-fil-A doesn't pay much more than the industry average. The company pays about US$ 8.44 an hour, according to Glassdoor. The average hourly wage in the fast-food industry is US$ 7.98, according to PayScale.

Chick-fil-A says its service is so consistent because it invests more than other companies in training its employees and helping them advance their careers — regardless of whether those careers are in fast food.

As previously reported, franchisees are encouraged to ask their new hires what their career goals are and then to try to help them achieve those goals. Some managers even pay out of pocket for their employees to get advanced degrees and certifications in the field they are interested in. Many also try to support their employees in times of need.

Kevin Moss, a Chick-fil-A manager of 20 years, told Business Insider that he has funded one employee's marketing degree and paid for another worker to take photography classes. Moss said he also often sends food to his employees' families when a member of the family is sick or passes away.

"I've found people are more motivated and respond better when you care about them," Moss told Business Insider.

The company also offers leadership positions in all of its restaurants that come with higher pay as well as greater responsibilities. Crew members can work their way toward "director" positions in marketing, cleanliness, kitchen operations, and drive-thru operations.

Many franchisees, including Moss, will additionally offer training classes for their employees to earn certificates in managing food and labor costs, managing conflict in restaurants, and other areas of expertise.

"The better we train, the longer people stay with us," Moss said.


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Vivaldi
Everyone knows that it won't displace Google's Chrome anytime soon, but startup Vivaldi has won over a respectable chunk of users in its six months since launch.

The Oslo-based company is a philosophical offshoot of the Opera browser. Opera came from the same city and, in part, from the same man, Jon von Tetzchner. After leaving Opera Software in 2011, he channeled his energy into startup investing. But in 2014, he decided to focus on a new browser with customization tools for people who consider Chrome and Firefox too simple.

By catering to power users and by trying to build in their feature requests rapidly, Vivaldi now has nearly a million active users each month, von Tetzchner told CNET last 10 May. "We need a few million users to be profitable, say 5 million," he said. "Our plan is to grow from there" and hire beyond the current staff of 35 to expand in new directions.

It's a tough time to launch a browser business. Google's Chrome is dominant. Since its debut in 2008, Chrome has surpassed Mozilla's Firefox, Apple's Safari and longtime leader Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Google continues to aggressively develop and promote Chrome for personal computers, phones, tablets and Chrome OS laptops popular at schools.

But there are plenty of options for anyone looking for a fresh approach to the Web. They include Brave from Mozilla co-founder Brendan Eich; Baidu Browser from the Chinese Internet giant; Yandex Browser from Google's biggest competitor in Russia; and UCweb, a mobile browser that Chinese Internet power Alibaba acquired. Even Microsoft is in the game, trying to move IE users to its new Edge browser.

Among Vivaldi's options is the ability to control the browser with mouse gestures -- for example, closing a tab by clicking and dragging down and to the left. The upcoming Vivaldi 1.2, set to debut at the end of May, will let you create new mouse gestures of your own and assign them to a wide range of commands, von Tetzchner said.

Also coming in 1.2 is the ability to "hibernate" a group of tabs, storing them away so they don't clutter your screen or burden your computer's memory, then reconstituting them when needed later. And users will be able to type in a custom zoom level by clicking on the zoom percentage in the lower right of the screen, at least if they've set Vivaldi to show a status bar across the bottom of the page, a feature other browsers have scrapped.

Later this year, Vivaldi plans to release version 2.0, a major update that will bring a cast-off Opera feature: integrated email aimed at people who have to wrestle with several accounts, according to von Tetzchner.


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Josh Trank
The young Josh Trank epitomizes what happens when a director tries his hand on the big league films even before he is ready.

After 2012's "Chronicle" minted him as a 27-year-old director with a No. 1 film, Trank was not only given the job of rebooting "Fantastic Four," he was also tapped to direct one of the "Star Wars" spinoffs that will launch later this year with Gareth Edwards's "Rogue One."

Everything looked promising until Trank changed everything on "Fantastic Four" by casting first a black actor to play the very white Caucasian FF4 beloved character Johnny Storm. Everyone was at first taken by surprise on how an upstart director easily changed the source material with more than 50 years of history. The reason was finally revealed after it was reported that Trank and the actor that played "The Human Torch," Michael B. Jordan, are friends.

After the "Fantastic Four" crashed and burned in theaters, Trank and Fox desperately blamed each other for the debacle. Trank still refuses to acknowledge the fact that his decision to divert from the sources material was the main reason why moviegoers refused to see the movie. His arrogance also led producers to relieve him from his "Star Wars" duties.

Since then, Trank has been laying low. His name will not even come up anymore as a sort of urban myth filmmakers tell each other late at night. He's glory days is finish.

Trank's career is not at its lowest as evident during the s fascinating Kim Masters interview in "The Hollywood Reporter" with Steven Spielberg, Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy, and producer Frank Marshall. Masters asks the group, "So when you look at young directors, how do you know you're not hiring another Josh Trank?"

Spielberg's response: "Who is that?" OUCH!

Coming from a legend of sci-fi filmmaking whom Trank probably looks up to as an inspiration, that’s cold.


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Instant Apps
Google is serious in cutting down the cost of mobile apps. The first thing they did was to get rid of the middleman — the apps themselves. To do that, the company is developing what it calls Android Instant Apps.

During a stage demo, Google demonstrated some Instant Apps in action. The premise behind the feature is to allow users to quickly enter an app via a URL without actually having to download the app to their phones.

This means that if somebody sends a link to a video on BuzzFeed Video, the recipient can simply tap it, and Instant Apps will automatically open the BuzzFeed Video app and play the video. That works even if the app isn’t installed on a particular device.

Android Instant Apps functions by cutting apps down into small modules. When users tap on a URL, the Google Play store will quickly download the pieces of a particular app they need to view the content they are trying to get to. So it's never grabbing the full app.

This technology could make life easier since users won’t have to download a bunch of apps just to view a video or article a friend sent to them. It will also save space on the device.

Of course, Instant Apps won't replace regular apps, as they don’t seem to offer the full functionality of standard apps and require an internet connection to work.

Google is working with a handful of developers to create Instant Apps — including BuzzFeed, B&H Photo, Medium and others.


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