Set yourself up for victory in Call of Duty's new battle royale mode

Learn how to play the world’s favorite new Battle Royale game.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 has three fantastic multiplayer modes on tap. Blackout is the sole newcomer of that bunch, and we’d understand it if more than a few of you have more than a few questions. Read these tips and take what you learn into Blackout mode to see if you can survive as the last one standing.

$60 at Amazon

Blackout basics

As Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 doesn’t have much in the way of a tutorial for Blackout, let us help you. This mode is what we like to call Battle Royale.

The schtick is that there are up to 100 people dropping into a huge map, and their sole goal is to survive as the last person or team standing. That means others will be hostile in their attempts to make it to the end, making this a bloodbath from start to finish.

You’ll drop from a chopper and race to the ground to pick up your first gun, shooting anyone who threatens you and picking up better guns and more useful items on the way. Rival players aren’t the only ones gunning for you, though, with a safe zone that continues to collapse and force everyone inward until, eventually, there’s no more room to run.

You will die and fail, a lot. But don’t let that get you down. The only way to get better at Blackout is to continue playing it and trying to be a little bit better than you were the last time. That said, we have some tips that’ll give you a better fighting chance than if you were to go in blind.

Can you upgrade the RAM in Synology's DS119j NAS?

Best answer: Due to its budget-friendly pricing, it’s not possible to access and replace the RAM in the Synology DS119j. I’d recommend going with the DS218+ instead, especially if you want to do more intensive tasks.

Amazon: Synology DS218+ ($298)

Inaccessible RAM in the budget NAS

Because the DS119j is Synology’s budget entry into its NAS catalog, the company made some design choices, including having the RAM embedded onto the main PCB. This means it’s not possible for you to upgrade the RAM inside this NAS. If you plan to do some intense NAS processing and require additional system memory, you’ll need to spend a little more on a better equipped Synology NAS.

The DS218+ comes rocking two hard drive bays, which is far better for data redundancy and storage capacity. It also has an improved processor, additional USB 3.0 ports, and — most importantly — upgradable RAM. There are a few downsides, which include the almost $200 more expensive pricing and higher power draw.

Spending an additional $200 on a NAS isn’t something you’re likely to be fond of if the DS119j is within your budget, but in order to enjoy enhanced functionality and features, you’ll need to part with additional cash. The DS128+ is better suited for a Plex media server with multiple users connected at once. The DS119j is good for file storage and energy efficiency, but not so much for media playback.

Step up your game with Razer's $80 Kraken Pro V2 and a free headset stand

Stay focused.

If you’ve been looking to level up with a new gaming headset, Razer is giving customers a great reason to pick up its Kraken Pro V2 headset directly from its website. Right now, you can get a free Razer Headset Stand with the headset at its regular price of $79.99 by adding both to your cart and entering promo code OCTSTAND18 during checkout. That saves you $40 off what the stand would cost otherwise. Shipping is free. Purchasing the Kraken Tournament Edition headset for $99.99 would snag you the $40 discount as well.

We fully recommend using the stand to keep your desk tidy and your headset safe, but if you don’t see yourself using it, you can grab the Kraken Pro V2 headset solo for $66 via Amazon.

Head over to our review of the headset if you’d like to dive into the pros and cons of the Kraken Pro V2 before your purchase.

Battletech 'Flashpoint' expansion now available to preorder for $20

Battletech’s first expansion is nearly here, and now you get your preorder in ahead of launch.

Turn-based mech fighter Battletech is gearing up to release its first expansion, titled “Flashpoint,” on November 27, and preorders are now available for $20.

Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden developers offer peek behind the curtain

Learn just what Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is all about with this inside look from developer The Bearded Ladies.

Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden has shown off plenty of gameplay footage in the leadup to its release, but the developers are using their latest video to offer an in-depth look at what the game is all about.

Document editor Coda adds third-party integrations with G Suite, Slack, Twilio and more

Coda, the smart collaborative document editor that breaks down the barriers between documents, spreadsheets, databases and presentations, is today launching one of its most important updates since its launch in 2017. With this update, users will be able to pull in data from third-party sources and send out messages to their teams on Slack or by SMS and email. With this, the company’s take on building living documents that are essentially small apps is now really taking shape.
“Coda is a new type of documents,” Coda co-founder and CEO Shishir Mehrotra told me. “It combines the best of documents, spreadsheets, presentations, applications into a new surface. The goal is to allow anybody to build a doc as powerful as an app.” That means you can use your inventory spreadsheet to build a small inventory management app, for example, that lives entirely in a tabbed Coda document. Mehrotra noted that many businesses essentially run on documents and spreadsheets, but they don’t have the ability to use that data to its full extent.

One part of these new integrations, which Coda calls “Coda Packs,” is that you now have the ability to extend your spreadsheets with data that you typically would have had to pull in by hand — something few people are likely to do. That may be stock, sports or weather data, but also open GitHub requests, Intercom tickets and data from your Google Calendar. But there also is a second set of integrations that now let you push out information to Slack and Twilio . In addition to these, Coda supports Figma, Greenhouse, Instagram, YouTube, Walmart Shopping and Wikipedia.

Two Google alums just raised $60M to rethink documents

What’s cool here is that Coda lets you build buttons that can combine dozens of different actions. Maybe you have a spreadsheet about an upcoming event with the phone numbers of a dozen friends and want to text them all a reminder? You can now build a button that talks to Twilio and sends an SMS to all of those who haven’t RSVPed yet. And with the weather integrations, you can tell them what the temperature will be.
I’m typically rather skeptical when I see a company that tries to reimagine a well-established concept like a text editor or spreadsheet. And who knows if Coda will be a commercial success. But I can see how the overall concept makes sense (especially thanks to the ability to add a formula anywhere in a document). It’s worth noting, though, that Microsoft is also moving in this direction with the ability to pull third-party data into Excel (though mostly under the guise of artificial intelligence). What Microsoft doesn’t really do as smoothly as Coda is combine all the different document types in one.

Document editor Coda adds third-party integrations with G Suite, Slack, Twilio and more

You can pre-load Red Dead Redemption 2 starting Friday, October 19

Rockstar’s near-guaranteed hit Red Dead Redemption 2 is preparing to hit Xbox and PlayStation servers everywhere this Friday to get you ready for the big launch day.

Red Dead Redemption 2 launches on October 26, 2018, and is available now for pre-order starting at $59.99. The game world is reportedly massive, with huge 4K assets to boot, which will put some serious pressure on your downloads and HDD storage space. To help you prepare, Rockstar will allow players across Xbox One and PlayStation 4 to begin pre-loading the game this Friday, at 12AM ET.

Building a great startup requires more than genius and a great invention

Shahin Farshchi

Shahin Farshchi is a partner at Lux Capital.

More posts by this contributor

Investing in frontier technology is (and isn’t) cleantech all over again
The dos and don’ts of crafting frontier-tech companies

Many entrepreneurs assume that an invention carries intrinsic value, but that assumption is a fallacy.
Here, the examples of the 19th and 20th century inventors Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla are instructive. Even as aspiring entrepreneurs and inventors lionize Edison for his myriad inventions and business acumen, they conveniently fail to recognize Tesla, despite having far greater contributions to how we generate, move and harness power. Edison is the exception, with the legendary penniless Tesla as the norm.
Universities are the epicenter of pure innovation research. But the reality is that academic research is supported by tax dollars. The zero-sum game of attracting government funding is mastered by selling two concepts: Technical merit, and broader impact toward benefiting society as a whole. These concepts are usually at odds with building a company, which succeeds only by generating and maintaining competitive advantage through barriers to entry.
In rare cases, the transition from intellectual merit to barrier to entry is successful. In most cases, the technology, though cool, doesn’t give a fledgling company the competitive advantage it needs to exist among incumbents and inevitable copycats. Academics, having emphasized technical merit and broader impact to attract support for their research, often fail to solve for competitive advantage, thereby creating great technology in search of a business application.
Of course there are exceptions: Time and time again, whether it’s driven by hype or perceived existential threat, big incumbents will be quick to buy companies purely for technology. Cruise/GM (autonomous cars), DeepMind/Google (AI) and Nervana/Intel (AI chips). But as we move from 0-1 to 1-N in a given field, success is determined by winning talent over winning technology. Technology becomes less interesting; the onus is on the startup to build a real business.

If a startup chooses to take venture capital, it not only needs to build a real business, but one that will be valued in the billions. The question becomes how a startup can create a durable, attractive business, with a transient, short-lived technological advantage.
Most investors understand this stark reality. Unfortunately, while dabbling in technologies which appeared like magic to them during the cleantech boom, many investors were lured back into the innovation fallacy, believing that pure technological advancement would equal value creation. Many of them re-learned this lesson the hard way. As frontier technologies are attracting broader attention, I believe many are falling back into the innovation trap.

Investing in frontier technology is (and isn’t) cleantech all over again

So what should aspiring frontier inventors solve for as they seek to invest capital to translate pure discovery to building billion-dollar companies? How can the technology be cast into an unfair advantage that will yield big margins and growth that underpin billion-dollar businesses?
Talent productivity: In this age of automation, human talent is scarce, and there is incredible value attributed to retaining and maximizing human creativity. Leading companies seek to gain an advantage by attracting the very best talent. If your technology can help you make more scarce talent more productive, or help your customers become more productive, then you are creating an unfair advantage internally, while establishing yourself as the de facto product for your customers.
Great companies such as Tesla and Google have built tools for their own scarce talent, and build products their customers, in their own ways, can’t do without. Microsoft mastered this with its Office products in the 1990s through innovation and acquisition, Autodesk with its creativity tools, and Amazon with its AWS Suite. Supercharging talent yields one of the most valuable sources of competitive advantage: switchover cost.  When teams are empowered with tools they love, they will loathe the notion of migrating to shiny new objects, and stick to what helps them achieve their maximum potential.
Marketing and distribution efficiency: Companies are worth the markets they serve. They are valued for their audience and reach. Even if their products in of themselves don’t unlock the entire value of the market they serve, they will be valued for their potential to, at some point in the future, be able to sell to the customers that have been tee’d up with their brands. AOL leveraged cheap CD-ROMs and the postal system to get families online, and on email.
Dollar Shave Club leveraged social media and an otherwise abandoned demographic to lock down a sales channel that was ultimately valued at a billion dollars. The inventions in these examples were in how efficiently these companies built and accessed markets, which ultimately made them incredibly valuable.
Network effects: Its power has ultimately led to its abuse in startup fundraising pitches. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram generate their network effects through internet and Mobile. Most marketplace companies need to undergo the arduous, expensive process of attracting vendors and customers. Uber identified macro trends (e.g. urban living) and leveraged technology (GPS in cheap smartphones) to yield massive growth in building up supply (drivers) and demand (riders).
Our portfolio company Zoox will benefit from every car benefiting from edge cases every vehicle encounters: akin to the driving population immediately learning from special situations any individual driver encounters. Startups should think about how their inventions can enable network effects where none existed, so that they are able to achieve massive scale and barriers by the time competitors inevitably get access to the same technology.
Offering an end-to-end solution: There isn’t intrinsic value in a piece of technology; it’s offering a complete solution that delivers on an unmet need deep-pocketed customers are begging for. Does your invention, when coupled to a few other products, yield a solution that’s worth far more than the sum of its parts? For example, are you selling a chip, along with design environments, sample neural network frameworks and data sets, that will empower your customers to deliver magical products? Or, in contrast, does it make more sense to offer standard chips, licensing software or tag data?
If the answer is to offer components of the solution, then prepare to enter a commodity, margin-eroding, race-to-the-bottom business. The former, “vertical” approach is characteristic of more nascent technologies, such as operating robots-taxis, quantum computing and launching small payloads into space. As the technology matures and becomes more modular, vendors can sell standard components into standard supply chains, but face the pressure of commoditization.

A simple example is personal computers, where Intel and Microsoft attracted outsized margins while other vendors of disk drives, motherboards, printers and memory faced crushing downward pricing pressure. As technology matures, the earlier vertical players must differentiate with their brands, reach to customers and differentiated product, while leveraging what’s likely going to be an endless number of vendors providing technology into their supply chains.
A magical new technology does not go far beyond the resumes of the founding team.
What gets me excited is how the team will leverage the innovation, and attract more amazing people to establish a dominant position in a market that doesn’t yet exist. Is this team and technology the kernel of a virtuous cycle that will punch above its weight to attract more money, more talent and be recognized for more than it’s product?

Building a great startup requires more than genius and a great invention

Best hard-shell, protective cases for the Dell Inspiron 15 5570

In the fast-paced and active world we live in, we need to offer our valuable technology some protection, especially as laptops get thinner and less robust. These hard cases will keep your Dell Inspiron 15 5570 looking good while also offering the best possible protection.

Overall best case

Pelican 1095 hard case

When it comes to hard cases, Pelican cases are a cut above the rest. They are shockproof, waterproof, dustproof, and even crushproof and come with a foam insert to keep your laptop safe at all times, no matter where you are. I use Pelican cases for my cameras and they’ve never let me down.

$80 at Amazon

Cheap and cheerful

mCover hard shell

This is one of the few cases I found specifically designed for the 5570. Its lightweight and colorful appearance is striking compared to the dour exteriors of most hard cases and it’s designed to protect the edges of your laptop from falls as well from scratches to the top and bottom. It even has little lift to elevate your laptop to a more comfortable writing angle.

$20 at Amazon