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A morning with the Rabbit R1: a fun, funky, unfinished AI gadget

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A morning with the Rabbit R1: a fun, funky, unfinished AI gadget

There were times I wasn’t sure the Rabbit R1 was even a real thing. The AI-powered, Teenage Engineering-designed device came out of nowhere to become one of the biggest stories at CES, promising a level of fun and whimsy that felt much better than some of the more self-serious AI companies out there. CEO Jesse Lyu practically promised the world in this $199 device.

Well, say this for Rabbit: it’s real. Last night, I went to the swanky TWA Hotel in New York City, along with a few hundred reporters, creators, and particularly enthusiastic R1 buyers. After a couple of hours of photo booths, specialty cocktails, and a rousing keynote and demo from Lyu — in which he made near-constant reference to and fun of the Humane AI Pin — we all got our R1s to take home. I’ve been using mine ever since, and I have some thoughts. And some questions.

It might be a little big for some hands, but the R1 fits nicely enough in mine.

From a hardware perspective, the R1 screams “kinda meh Android phone.” Here are the salient specs: it’s about three inches tall and wide and a half-inch thick. It weighs 115 grams, which is about two-thirds as much as the iPhone 15. It has a 2.88-inch screen, runs on a 2.3GHz MediaTek MT6765 processor, and has 128 gigs of storage and four gigs of RAM. It has a speaker on the back, two mics on the top, and a SIM card slot on the side right next to the USB-C charging port. It only comes in one color, a hue Rabbit calls “leuchtorange” but is often known as “brilliant orange” or “luminous orange.” It’s definitely orange, and it’s definitely luminous.

At this point, the best way I can describe the R1 is like a Picasso painting of a smartphone: it has most of the same parts, just laid out really differently. Instead of sitting on top or in the back, the R1’s camera sits in a cutout space on the right side of the device, where it can spin its lens to face both toward and away from you. 

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The R1 is like a Picasso painting of a smartphone

After spending a few hours playing with the device, I have to say: it’s pretty nice. Not luxurious, or even particularly high-end, just silly and fun. Where Humane’s AI Pin feels like a carefully sculpted metal gem, the R1 feels like an old-school MP3 player crossed with a fidget spinner. The wheel spins a little stiffly for my taste but smoothly enough, the screen is a little fuzzy but fine, and the main action button feels satisfying to thump on. 

When I first got the device and connected it to Wi-Fi, it then immediately asked me to sign up for an account at Rabbithole, the R1’s web portal. I did that, scanned a QR code with the R1 to get it synced up, and immediately did a software update. I spent that time logging in to the only four external services the R1 currently connects to: Spotify, Uber, DoorDash, and Midjourney. 

The Rabbithole app is for managing your logins and seeing your notes. It needs some work.

Once I was eventually up and running, I started chatting with the R1. So far, it does a solid job with basic AI questions: it gave me lots of good information about this week’s NFL draft, found a few restaurants near me, and knew when Herbert Hoover was president. This is all fairly basic ChatGPT stuff, and there’s some definite lag as it fetches answers, but I much prefer the interface to the Humane AI Pin — because there’s a screen, and you can see the thing working so the AI delays don’t feel quite so interminable. 

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Because there’s a screen, the AI delays don’t feel quite so interminable

Almost immediately, though, I started running into stuff the R1 just can’t do. It can’t send emails or make spreadsheets, though Lyu has been demoing both for months. Rabbithole is woefully unfinished, too, to the point I was trying to tap around on my phone and it was instead moving a cursor around a half-second after every tap. That’s a good reminder that the whole thing is running on a virtual machine storing all your apps and credentials, which still gives me security-related pause.

Oh, and here’s my favorite thing that has happened on the R1 so far: I got it connected to my Spotify account, which is a feature I’m particularly excited about. I asked for “Beyoncé’s new album,” and the device excitedly went and found me “Crazy in Love” — a lullaby version, from an artist called “Rockabye Baby!” So close and yet so far. It doesn’t seem to be able to find my playlists, either, or skip tracks. When I said, “Play The 1975,” though, that worked fine and quickly. (The speaker, by the way, is very much crappy Android phone quality. You’re going to want to use that Bluetooth connection.)

The R1’s Vision feature, which uses the camera to identify things in the scene around you, seems to work fine as long as all you want is a list of objects in the scene. The device can’t take a photo or video and doesn’t seem to be able to do much else with what it can see.

The R1 has a camera, but it’s not a particularly useful one yet.
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When you’re not doing anything, the screen shows the time and that bouncing rabbit-head logo. When you press and hold the side button to issue a command, the time and battery fade away, and the rabbit’s ears perk up like it’s listening. It’s very charming! The overall interface is simple and text-based, but it’s odd in spots: it’s not always obvious how to go back, for instance, and you only get to see a line or two of text at a time at the very bottom of the screen, even when there’s a whole paragraph of answer to read.

Rabbit’s roadmap is ambitious: Lyu has spent the last few months talking about all the things the R1’s so-called “Large Action Model” can do, including learning apps and using them for you. During last night’s event, he talked about opening up the USB-C port on the device to allow accessories, keyboards, and more. That’s all coming… eventually. Supposedly. For now, the R1’s feature set is much more straightforward. You can use the device to play music, get answers to questions, translate speech, take notes, summon an Uber, and a few other things. 

The back of the R1 has its speaker, scroll wheel, and camera. And fingerprints.

That means there’s still an awful lot the R1 can’t do and a lot I have left to test. (Anything you want to know about, by the way, let me know!) I’m particularly curious about its battery life, its ability to work with a bad connection, whether it heats up over time, and how it handles more complex tasks than just looking up information and ordering chicken nuggets. But so far, this thing seems like it’s trying to be less like a smartphone killer and more like the beginnings of a useful companion. That’s probably as ambitious as it makes sense to be right now — though Lyu and the Rabbit folks have a lot of big promises to eventually live up to and not a lot of time to do so.

Photography by David Pierce / The Verge

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Leak: the Asus ROG Ally X will have twice the battery at 80Wh and two USB-C ports

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Leak: the Asus ROG Ally X will have twice the battery at 80Wh and two USB-C ports

While we already knew the Ally X was shooting for double the battery life by including a larger pack, VideoCardz has leaked marketing materials that confirm it’s literally doubling the capacity to 80 watt-hours, up from the original 40Wh pack. And yet, the handheld only weighs an additional 70g (2.5oz) and is just 5mm thicker, a bit thinner than my hands-on estimate. It’s 36.9mm (1.45 inches) thick in total, versus the 32mm (1.27 inches) of the original.

That’s partially due to a thinner fan design: 23 percent smaller, with 50 percent thinner fins, according to the leak, yet with 10 percent increased airflow.

Aside from battery, the most welcome spec might be the addition of a second USB-C port with USB4 speeds. VideoCardz says it replaces the proprietary eGPU port that Asus included previously but doesn’t say if we can charge from both the top and bottom now. (I would expect so since Asus taped up both the top and bottom of the engineering prototype I touched to keep me from sussing ports out.)

As we’ve reported, the Ally X shouldn’t have much increased performance over the original, with the same Ryzen Z1 Extreme chip and seven-inch 120Hz VRR screen, but VideoCardz also corroborates the rumor that it’ll come with 24GB of faster LPDDR5 memory, giving it an additional 8GB of overhead to share with the GPU that could possibly lead to a slight improvement in games.

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Stop thinking about retirement by tapping tech to rediscover what gets you excited

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Stop thinking about retirement by tapping tech to rediscover what gets you excited

Even if you’re retired or well into your career, it’s never too late to learn a new skill. And because you don’t need to go back into a physical classroom to learn those skills anymore (something that can be very anxiety-inducing for some people), taking the leap to study may be much less daunting when you can do it online.

Whether you’re looking for a career change, want to stay relevant at your current job or are looking for something to do post-retirement, why not try something new?

There are so many websites that offer low-cost or even free courses where you can advance your skills on your own time without having to borrow thousands of dollars or change your routine and dedicate yourself to it full time.

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Two women looking at computer (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

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What are the highest-paying jobs in 2024?

If one of the reasons you’re looking to learn a new skill is that you’re interested in a higher-paying job, that’s understandable. Or maybe someone younger than you is asking for advice, and you want to give them some tips on what they can pursue. Perhaps you’re just curious about what the highest-paying jobs are these days. Whatever the reason, it’s good to be current on these questions.

Though year after year doctors, lawyers, accountants and electrical engineers are at the top of the list of the highest-paying jobs, that’s not always the most realistic career path for everyone, especially if you’re looking to skill up quickly for a career change or a hobby. In either case – or maybe you’re just curious – here are the highest-paying jobs in 2024, according to several sources like Yahoo! Finance, Indeed and U.S. News Money.

  1. Loan officer: $192K
  2. IT manager: $164K
  3. Financial manager: $140K
  4. Marketing manager: $140K
  5. Sales manager: $131K
  6. Software developer: $127K
  7. Computer network architect: $127K
  8. Actuary: $114K
  9. Information security analyst: $112K
  10. Scrum master: $106K
  11. Data scientist: $104K
  12. Tax manager: $130K
  13. Real estate analyst: $90K
  14. HR manager: $79K
  15. Virtual assistant: $75K
  16. Digital marketer: $67K
  17. Life insurance agent: $67K
  18. Freelance writer: $59K
  19. Customer service representative: $59K
  20. Translate/interpreter: $58K
  21. Graphic designer: $56K
  22. Online fitness trainer: $53K

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Online fitness trainer at work (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

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Do you need an education to do these jobs?

The quick answer? No, not necessarily. But it will take some skill leveling up. You can get some of these roles by educating yourself online or enrolling in online courses. And these courses don’t typically ask you for a degree to enroll.

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Why? They understand that a person might want to learn new skills for many reasons. Of course, if getting a higher-paid job or wanting a promotion is your reason for learning a new skill in the first place, then certainly having some college education may help you land one of these jobs sooner.

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A woman taking an online course (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

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Where to take online courses

 There are several excellent online platforms where you can continue your education, acquire new skills and explore various subjects. Here are some of the top online learning platforms.

edEX: Ideal for tech enthusiasts and career-minded individuals seeking courses from top universities on subjects like AI, coding and data analytics.

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Coursera: Perfect for those looking for university-level courses, specializations and degrees from renowned institutions worldwide, with financial aid options available.

Udacity: Ideal for aspiring programmers and tech enthusiasts seeking hands-on experience and industry connections through Nanodegree programs.

LinkedIn Learning: Suitable for professionals looking to advance their careers with courses on leadership, marketing and project management with personalized recommendations and LinkedIn integration.

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A woman taking an online course (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

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What if I am late in my career or near retirement?

Then, yes, you can take one of these courses (or many of them). Again, the whole purpose of online learning is to make it accessible to everyone. So, even though there may be other students in your cohort who are younger or at a totally different stage of their careers or their lives, don’t let that hold you back.

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Learning a new skill, even if you’ve been in your career for decades, can help you stay on top of your game as new tech and trends roll in. If you’re a parent or a grandparent, learning a new skill can help you relate more to your children as they grow and pursue their careers. And, if you’re near retirement or already retired, learning a new skill helps keep the mind sharp and maybe even gives you the education you need to start a new venture.

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Man on his phone and computer (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

How to choose the best online course for you

Choosing the best online course depends on several factors. Understand the reputation of the course, the length of time you have to complete it, whether courses are asynchronous or synchronous, your learning styles, budget, etc. 

You can look at reviews, talk to students who have taken the course, and find out who in your network has attended one of these programs and ask about their job prospects. Again, it all depends on why you’re taking the course in the first place. If you just want to do it for fun, perhaps you’ll join a course taught by a favorite celebrity on MasterClass.

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A woman learning from home (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

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Kurt’s key takeaways

Learning new skills isn’t only for recent high school or college grads. It’s for anyone. Going “back to school” has never been easier with online courses. No matter your age and your intention, there is a course – and platform – out there for you.

Have you or anyone you know advanced any of your skills using one of the methods above? What about a friend who took an online course as a hobby? What was the experience like? Let us know by writing us at Cyberguy.com/Contact.

For more of my tech tips and security alerts, subscribe to my free CyberGuy Report Newsletter by heading to Cyberguy.com/Newsletter.

Ask Kurt a question or let us know what stories you’d like us to cover.

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Copyright 2024 CyberGuy.com. All rights reserved.

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Microsoft Bing issue takes down Copilot, DuckDuckGo, and ChatGPT search features

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Microsoft Bing issue takes down Copilot, DuckDuckGo, and ChatGPT search features

Search capabilities for ChatGPT, Copilot, DuckDuckGo, and other platforms aren’t working properly right now due to a Microsoft outage that appears to be related to the Bing application programming interface (API). Sites and services are either completely unavailable or only intermittently responding at the time of publication.

The issues — which began around 3AM ET — appear to be linked to Bing’s API and any service that relies upon it. While Microsoft’s own web search engine Bing was also seemingly affected earlier, according to Techcrunch, the service now appears to be correctly loading search results.

Search engines like DuckDuckGo relying on Bing’s API are displaying error messages.
Image: DuckDuckGo

Other search engines like DuckDuckGo and Ecosia, which rely on Bing’s API, are unable to load any search results. Microsoft’s Copilot is also experiencing similar issues, displaying a loading loop that prevents users from accessing the service. ChatGPT, which allows Plus subscribers to perform web searches, is similarly displaying an error message when users attempt to make a search enquiry.

Microsoft has acknowledged the loading issues with its Copilot service, saying it’s “working to isolate the cause of the issue.” Meanwhile, Microsoft’s service health platform doesn’t flag any other service outages currently. OpenAI and Ecosia have confirmed that they are experiencing issues with their platform’s search features, and OpenAI says it’s also investigating the issue.

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