Sony says its PlayStation 5 can load virtual worlds far faster than ever before, thanks to one of the fastest solid-state drives ever made — but it’s also not a particularly big drive. Sony has confirmed to The Verge that you won’t be able to expand that blazing-fast SSD storage on day one.
While the PS5 features a dedicated internal slot that can theoretically fit standard stick-shaped M.2 SSDs and an easy way to access it, the slot will apparently be disabled out of the box. “[T]his is reserved for a future update,” Sony tells The Verge.
If you’ve been paying close attention to PS5 news, this won’t be a big surprise. PlayStation hardware architect Mark Cerny spent several minutes talking up the SSD storage expansion feature as part of his technical preview back in March, but he also said at the time that support was likely to be “a bit past” launch. (See 20:00 through 23:30 in the video below.)
“It’d be great if that happened by launch, but it’s likely to be a bit past it, so please hold off on getting that M.2 drive until you hear from us,” Cerny said.
What’s the holdup? As Cerny explained, not all M.2 SSDs are fast enough to keep up with the PS5, thin enough to fit into the SSD bay, or compatible with Sony’s I/O controller — and Sony promised to do compatibility testing late this year to make sure.
At the very least, Cerny suggested, off-the-shelf SSDs would need to deliver more than 5.5GB/sec of bandwidth over a PCIe Gen4 connection, and not have a giant heatsink so large that they won’t fit into the PS5’s drive bay.
I spoke to practically every manufacturer of a PCIe Gen4 stick drive — there is only a handful — and not a single one was able to tell me their drives will actually work with the PS5. Two suggested that Sony’s compatibility testing program hasn’t actually kicked off yet.
Several were optimistic, though, suggesting that their drives should meet Sony’s requirements, and we’re hoping to test for ourselves as soon as we get a chance.
In the meantime, you might find yourself having to manage your PS5’s internal storage carefully. The PS5’s 825GB SSD drive may come with as little as 667GB of usable storage, according to leaks. Compare that to the size requirements for some PS5 launch games:
- SackBoy: A Big Adventure: 32GB
- Spider-Man: Miles Morales: 50GB
- Spider-Man: Miles Morales Ultimate Launch Edition (includes Spider-Man Remastered): 105GB
- Demon’s Souls: 66GB
- Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War: 133GB
If you’re planning to buy all of these games, that’s half your storage already accounted for. (It’s worth noting that the Call of Duty games are notoriously storage-intensive, though.) And they’re not the only games available at launch.
Still, storage isn’t going to be a unique problem for Sony since Microsoft also decided to go with solid-state drives for its 1TB Xbox Series X and 512GB Xbox Series S, which have 802GB and 364GB of space, respectively. A $299.99 Xbox Series S might not seem like such a deal once you add a $219.99 1TB expansion card.
The good news is that all of these consoles also support USB external storage, and Sony confirms to me that it’ll be available on PS5 on day one. Cerny has said it’s a good way to add lots of PS4 games to your PS5 since they don’t need the faster-speed the SSD can unlock, and Microsoft will let you play Xbox One, Xbox 360 and OG Xbox games from USB 3.1 storage as well.
One last note: if you’re thinking that buying a PS5 or Xbox with a disc drive means you won’t need all of that internal storage, that’s not the case. Since the PS4 and Xbox One, most big disc-based games have required you to install them to a drive. The disc just saves you from downloading all the bits and acts as your key.
Microsoft Teams will stop working for millions tomorrow
Microsoft Teams is undergoing a big change, with the popular web conferencing service set to stop working on Internet Explorer 11. On Monday November 30 the web-based version of Microsoft Teams will stop working with IE11, so if you’re an Internet Explorer fan you’ll have to switch to Microsoft Edge to use Teams in a browser. The Windows 10 makers announced this big Microsoft Teams change earlier this year, and it appears to all be part of a push to move Internet Explorer 11 users onto Edge.
Besides IE11 losing Microsoft Teams support at the end of November, the veteran browser will also no longer be able to access Microsoft 365 services in the future.
On August 17 2021 the remaining Microsoft 365 services will stop working with Internet Explorer 11.
While this comes just a few months after the Legacy version of Microsoft Edge reaches its end of support on March 9 2021.
These changes were announced over the summer in a Microsoft blog post where the Redmond-based tech giant said they “want to be clear that IE 11 isn’t going away”.
However, the amount of mileage you’ll get from Internet Explorer 11 is greatly reducing, and with Legacy Edge reaching its end of support it’s clear the Chromium-powered version of Edge is the basket Microsoft is putting all its eggs in.
Announcing the news previously, Microsoft said: “We’re announcing that Microsoft 365 apps and services will no longer support Internet Explorer 11 (IE 11) by this time next year.
“Beginning November 30 2020, the Microsoft Teams web app will no longer support IE 11.
“Beginning August 17 2021, the remaining Microsoft 365 apps and services will no longer support IE 11.
“This means that after the above dates, customers will have a degraded experience or will be unable to connect to Microsoft 365 apps and services on IE 11. For degraded experiences, new Microsoft 365 features will not be available or certain features may cease to work when accessing the app or service via IE 11. While we know this change will be difficult for some customers, we believe that customers will get the most out of Microsoft 365 when using the new Microsoft Edge. We are committed to helping make this transition as smooth as possible.”
Internet Explorer has long been a staple of the Windows experience, with the first iteration of the browser launching back in 1995.
Besides this major Teams change, there is another big difference that Internet Explorer 11 users will notice this month.
Some of the most popular websites in the world no longer open in Internet Explorer 11, with users being redirected to Microsoft Edge version 87 instead.
This change kicked into effect recently, and affects hugely popular websites such as YouTube, Instagram and Twitter.
But that’s just scratching the surface, with Express.co.uk previously reporting that over 1,000 websites will stop working in IE11.
When IE11 users try to access a blocked website they will get redirected to Edge and see this message appear: “You’re now browsing in Microsoft Edge.
“This website doesn’t work with Internet Explorer. Microsoft recommends continuing in Microsoft Edge to experience better speed, performance, and security.”
For those that still are having difficulty saying goodbye to the veteran and popular browser, Microsoft will allow users to enable ‘Internet Explorer mode’ in Edge.
If this is all part of a push to try and move users onto the Chromium-powered version of Microsoft Edge, then it’s having the desired effect.
Stats from NetMarketShare have shown since the start of the year, Edge has grown its market share by over two percent and managed to leapfrog Mozilla’s Firefox and become the world’s second most popular web browser.
And with more and more great features getting added to Edge, such as vertical tabs and an autofill for money-off coupons on online retail stores, whose to say Edge won’t continue to slowly but surely close the gap on Google Chrome in 2021.
Android might separate emoji from OS updates so you can get new ones faster
Emoji are important. Heck, they were the biggest reason I wanted to write about the recent iOS 14.2 update. More emoji = better expression.
Whenever Unicode consortium, a non-profit organization that handles dissemination and approval of emoji, releases a new set, there’s palpable excitement to start using them in our favorite apps and devices as soon as possible. However, we often need to wait it out till Apple, Google, or your phone maker releases an OS update with the new set.
This process may change for Android users. Sleuths at XDA Developers a clue in Android code that suggests the Big G is thinking about separating emoji from the system update, so you can get them faster.
Here’s what’s happening: until now, font files containing emoji were stored under the /system/fonts directory. So refreshing them has been possible only through an over-the-air update.
The new code commit suggests that they are to be stored under a new /data/fonts/files directory, which allows for a server update to these files. That means Google or other manufacturers can push a font file update to push new emoji to users anytime.
The new code also indicates that this will help other apps read these files and import new emoji directly into their system.
As folks at XDA noted, this code hasn’t been merged to the Android open source project, so it’s not final yet. But we can hope that this update makes the cut and we get new emojis without waiting for an over-the-air update.
How COVID and an unexpected 17-hour time difference forced us to master asynchronous work
As my co-founder and I roll into the eighth month of our “one-week visit” to Australia, it amuses me how a company so focused on meeting efficiency ended up being one of the strongest examples of effective asynchronous communication.
Like many, we were surprised by the sudden grounding of our entire team. In particular, we were two co-founders of a San-Francisco based company stranded down under, putting a 17-hour time difference between ourselves and our headquarters.
Fortunately, we already had processes around asynchronous communication alongside our already unique meeting culture. To adapt to our new situation, we moved more of our day-to-day collaboration to asynchronous modes. Sure, it’s been a (major) adjustment, but it’s just accelerating our arrival to somewhere we were already heading.
The pandemic shifted companies to more synchronous collaboration
Our experience hasn’t been the norm. Many teams have replaced face time with another form of synchronous communication: Meetings.
While most teams made adjustments to accommodate remote work back in March, they were often short term solutions. A common issue since then has been too many meetings — a drain on productivity and time. When you can’t tap a co-worker on the shoulder, you might pop a “short sync” on their calendar instead. The result is a surge in meetings, many of which are unnecessary (or unnecessarily long).
Now, we make software that powers meeting workflows for Adobe, Netflix, Spotify, and thousands of others, so we don’t think there’s anything wrong with meetings. That said, meetings are expensive when poorly used.
The obvious cost is the hour that people are in the meeting, but that’s only a portion of the time spent. Research shows that switching one task to another costs between 10 minutes to 2 hours. Meetings may interrupt productivity, but despite the cost, the data still shows a natural tendency to reach for the calendar invitation.
Research across our customer base shows a large increase in the average number of meetings per person since the onset of the pandemic.
In other words, companies haven’t embraced asynchronous collaboration. Despite so many ways to share information — chat, email, documents, video recordings — meetings appear to be the go-to communication channel for socially-distanced teams.
Analysis of the titles of these meetings is even more revealing. Updates, syncs, weekly status meetings, check-ins, demos, and reviews dominate. In other words, most meetings aren’t for decision-making; they’re for sharing information. As such, they could have been just as effective when performed asynchronously.
Mastering the async: Assessing your choices
At Hugo, we have a 4-hour per week limitation on synchronous, internal meetings. This is to protect everyone’s productivity. We only use meetings for the 3Ds: Debate, Discussion, and Decision-making. All of our other collaboration is asynchronous.
Perhaps ironically, one of the most important forms of asynchronous information is the documentation around meetings: agendas, notes, and tasks. If an agenda is shared or collaboratively prepared prior to a meeting, attendees can intelligently choose whether to attend or skip a meeting. If they get the notes, takeaways, and tasks assigned, they can find out what’s happening on other teams without attending their meetings too. And even, if we find ourselves in a meeting, being well-prepared means we can get through a lot of Ds in short order and we often end early.
But, how do we choose whether to have a meeting or do something else?
Think about the way you communicate at work as a continuum between synchronous and asynchronous, which in both cases range from low to high nuance. What we mean by nuance is the density of the non-verbal cues, such as body language, voice tone, the position at the table, etc.
Generally, we go from high-nuance to low-nuance when choosing the means of communication. While you’re probably well-versed in the synchronous methods of working together, we also owe our success in building a strong, aligned team to these asynchronous channels.
- Video — A three-minute video often replaces a 30-minute meeting. That’s why we love tools like Loom and Vimeo Record. It’s easy to record videos talking through an idea and sharing a screen. We can use whiteboarding, images, anything. Even when we’ve written up a document, we might talk about it through a video, highlighting specific information or ideas. I’m known to send late night videos conveying my excitement for an idea, or concern about a challenge in the same dynamic way that I like to communicate in meetings.
- Voice — Voice gives a level of personality and tone. With humor and empathy especially, voice is usually better than text. The disadvantages of voice and video are that people don’t tend to keep and review them.
- Email and notes — Email is great for long-form information. Email and documents give you more time to consider your wording and put things together in an organized fashion. Written communication also allows you to reference links and other docs.
- Threaded chat — Chat apps such as Slack and Microsoft Teams allow people to have asynchronous group conversations and we use them heavily. Most companies are making great use of these tools. When any of the chats reach the point where they are a Debate, Discussion or Decision-making need, then a synchronous conversation (aka a meeting) may be called for.
- Text — Text is best for short, logistical communications. Text can also be important as a supplement to other communications. For example, if you have an urgent deadline, you might want to tell someone by text to watch your video right away.
Take a week to consider the different kinds of communications in your organization. How many synchronous meetings could be replaced by one of these asynchronous methods? Are people communicating in ways that lack nuance, such as via text, when it would be faster and more effective to send a video?
It’s natural to lean on habits simply because that’s how we have always operated. But a silver lining to this crisis is that it’s also an opportunity to assess whether there are better ways to work — both in and out of the office.
Even if you’re not on the other side of the globe from most of your team, you can still benefit from combining synchronous and asynchronous methodologies of communication. Find that balance, and you’ll see for yourself how it reduces fatigue and distraction, increases effectiveness, and makes your organization more productive.
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