3 Ways To Keep Your 2017 Career Resolution

Whether you are in the market for a new job or not, 2017 is your year to make good on your career resolution. According to Business Insider, the U.S. economy is on the up and up. By the end of last year, the U.S. was reveling in about 74 months of consecutive job growth.

Companies are on a hiring spree as competition declines, and salaries are climbing. So, what does this mean for you?

The current jobs market means that your New Year’s career resolutions doesn’t have to die a slow death over the next few weeks. Take advantage of the times and elevate your career in just three, simple ways.

Resolution #1: Figure Out Your Next Move

We know what you are thinking, ‘Gee, that was helpful.’ But, bear with us. Perhaps you’ve been toiling away at your job for years, daydreaming about your next move or maybe you’re comfortable and haven’t given it much thought. In either scenario, LinkedIn is still your friend.

Use LinkedIn to achieve career resolution in 2017

Beyond simply connecting with your colleagues and other professional contacts, are you leveraging all of its features?

Cyberstalk for All the Rights Reasons …

In the beginning stages of your job search (especially if your path is uncertain), LinkedIn is a great resource to lightly cyber stalk (in a non-creepy way) people who have the careers you want. Even if your profile isn’t set to private, don’t be shy; go ahead and click on that executive’s profile you admire. Do you have mutual connections? If not, don’t be afraid to take it one step further and reach out to them. Cold contact (emails, messages, calls, etc.) still works. It’s all a numbers game so don’t get discouraged.

Find Common Ground…

If randomly approaching a stranger online isn’t your thing, then LinkedIn’s Alumni Connection feature is probably up your alley. At any point in your career, your alumni game should always be strong (after all isn’t that why we paid for expensive pieces of paper to prove we belonged to a certain academic community?). Alumni love hearing from their people so drop them a quick line, tell them your story, and make the ask. Stay clear of outright asking for a job. Simply asking for advice is the best way to go.

Leave Breadcrumbs …

Breadcrumbs is online dating lingo for stringing someone along with no intentions of committing (e.g., liking someone’s Facebook page, retweeting them, sending seemingly innocuous texts like “Hey, how are you?”). What does this have to do with your professional life? Well, LinkedIn’s Job Search function often lists who posted the job. Scope out their profiles and use the tactics mentioned above. They’ll likely see that you’ve checked them out and may return the favor. But don’t just leave it there. Wait a couple of days, then send a short follow-up email introducing yourself, referencing the post, and linking them to your profile. Remember recruiters accept applications and referrals, but they also ‘source’ roles. In other words, your outreach is doing part of their job for them. Help them, help you.

Resolution #2: Get Organized

First things first. Set specific goals on a daily basis and give yourself a timeline on when you would like to secure an offer.  Before you know it, your inbox will be populated with interview requests, calendar invites, follow-up notes, etc. It can all get to be a bit overwhelming. To handle it all, get organized with personal organization apps (24Me, Evernote, Remember the Milk) or try out bullet journaling with old school pen and paper. Do what works best for you.

Resolution #3: Be Part of the Conversation

Building your network is a give and take situation. In exchange for the advice imparted on you by your new connects, the least you can do is share your thoughts. No need to be an industry expert to sound off on a range of topics. Take to LinkedIn’s Blog feature, Medium, and Twitter (the company’s struggling, but the platform is still clutch) to spread ideas and offer insights. Nothing to say? No worries, simply sharing resources like news or reports goes a long way in building your profile as someone who cares about industry trends and developments.

Feel free to join offline conversations. Networking can be daunting, but it does not necessarily have to be a thing that you need to “get over.” If you can’t stomach another awkward networking event where everyone else seems to be in the same boat as you, then gravitate towards things you would normally do. For instance, join a Meetup group, an industry organization, or sports league, attend events or conferences, or sign up to volunteer. Making new friends and catching up with old ones helps organically grow your network.

Bringing It All Together

The 2017 job market is hot, hot, hot. So go ahead, update your LinkedIn profile, get your (non-creepy) cyberstalk on, and share your ideas with your growing network. And for bonus points, step away from your laptop or mobile device and get engaged in your community. Your dream job is right around the corner.

Increased salaries in 2017

Virtual Skinny: Election Day is Here!

11.8.2016

Good to Know: Election Day is in full swing! If you were thinking of pulling a Justin Timberlake by taking a ballot selfie while in the voting booth, it may or may not be legal. It’s a state-by-state issue so check it out first with this tool. Save your “I Voted” sticker for free stuff. And, find out how to follow election results here.

vote, election day, U.S. elections

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When You Keep It Old School …

Don’t count on online voting becoming a thing soon (pun intended, we slay us!).

When You’re Wondering Why Not …

In a nutshell: It’s too risky. And, don’t try the ‘well if we can bank and shop online, we should be able to vote online too’ argument. The argument fails for 2 reasons: (1) Online banking is heavy on user identity, and voting is kind of a private, anonymous thing. (2) Billions of dollars go down the drain in the form of online shopping scams every year.

When You’re trying to avoid election drama

All types of governments (looking at you Washington D.C. and Estonia) have given electronic voting a go, and they were both hackity, hacked, hacked. For the record: Non-swing states like Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Missouri and North Dakota allow limited votes via an online portal for military folks and people living abroad. But, it likely won’t go any further than that. 

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?


Hey, Listen Up …

The FBI’s got a message for private companies. Cyber attacks aren’t going anywhere, and ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) devices are the target. The U.S.’s top watchdog uncovered a network of IoT devices called Mirai that’s wreaked havoc on an Internet service provider. The code for the Mirai botnet is public, which means that anyone who’s remotely savvy can use it to hack consumer devices and reprogram them. No word on who’s behind Mirai. 

When You Take A Timeout …

The UK  Information Commissioner’s Office is feeling itself this week. Why? Well, the office managed to get Facebook and WhatsApp to hold off on sharing UK WhatsAPP users’ data between each other in the name of displaying ads.  The office put in a FB request but not the kind we’re used to. It wants FB to do a better job in explaining to users what exactly is going on with their data on WhatsApp. But, it warned that it won’t hesitate to take action against FB if the company decides to use people’s data without first getting consent. #WarningShots 

THE STREETS ARE TALKIN’


Urban Outfitters tried it! The retailer tweeted out an ‘Election Day’ guide to its millions of followers. The guide advised its millennial clientele to take both their voter registrations cards and IDs to the polls. One word: WRONG! Fact: You never need your voter registration ID, and only some states require ID. Shady boots or nah? 

wrong

Payback is a b#@!$ Snapchat just returned the favor to Instagram. Snapchat’s taking the best from ‘Instagram Stories’: The rewind button. The feature will be available on the latest version of Snap. The company’s also throwing augmented lenses into the update too. 

Speaking of “biting” from others… Watch out LinkedIn! Facebook’s now testing out letting page admins have the ability to create job postings and receive job apps from potential employees. 

Alphabet, formerly known as Google, lowkey invested in Snapchat. But, the company’s pulling the plug on its partnership with Starbucks on drones aka ‘Project Wing.’   

Online radio streaming service Pandora’s got plans to ‘“reflect the evolving makeup of our local workforce.” To do that, the company promises to up it’s employees of color by 10 percent. That would be 45% of total employees being people of color by 2020. 

Samsung doesn’t think it’s too late to say sorry for its faulty Galaxy Note 7. 

It may not be done after all. Rumor has it that Twitter’s considering selling Vine. The microblogging site’s not saying a word so we’ll see… 

Amazon posted a job description hinting that it’s making housekeeping a perk of being a Prime Member. 

FUN FACT


The dude who voiced AOL’s “You’ve Got Mail” is switching teams. Elwood Edwards is now an Uber driver in Cleveland, Ohio. 

Virtual Skinny: Get Out the Vote!

11.4.2016

Good to Know: Time to vote for the next U.S. president. FYI, voting by text is not a thing so don’t believe the ads you’re seeing online. 

facepalm

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When The End Is Near …  

Take that whichever you want to … But come next Tuesday, the U.S. presidential election will be over. And, Facebook may leave its mark.

When You’re Not Understanding …

Take a look at Hong Kong’s last election. Facebook helped get young people and liberal voters out to the polls, which led to the conservative candidate crying loser tears. Analysts says this could mean something for what’s going on State-side. 

When You Need Information, Quick…

Facebook’s ‘Election 2016’ hub gives people easy access to “voting guides, registration info, news video, and other Election Day planning tools.” 

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?


There’s Always A Way …

Not being picked up by a taxi on account of how you look is common knowledge many have experienced. When ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft stepped onto the scene, they thought they were doing their part to decrease blatant bias.  Not so fast. Turns out Uber and Lyft drivers are simply deciding whether to pick someone up or not based on riders’ names. Black men are having a particularly hard time getting rides (at least based on a study by MIT, Stanford, and University of Washington of what goes down in Seattle and Boston). Women aren’t immune either. 

That’s What We Call Dodging A Bullet …

Gregory Selden, an African-American AirBnB user, filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the company. Selden said an AirBnB host wouldn’t rent to him because… Well … he’s black. A federal judge put the kibosh on the suit on account of AirBnB’s policies that users agree to when they sign onto the platform. The judge says this situation’s gotta be handled privately and out of the court. 

Where Is Everyone?

Struggling Internet vet Yahoo announced plans to sell to Verizon. Soon after, the company saw its women employees leaving in droves. Not a great time since the tech industry is focused on diversity and inclusion issues. No confirmed reason for the exodus, but Yahoo’s Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion says they simply got better offers elsewhere. 

NUMBERS DON’T LIE …


Only 18% of women are earning undergrad degrees in computer science, physics, and engineering. A new psychology study blames masculine geek culture. The fix on closing the gender? Less focus on Star Trek and video games and more focus on things women can relate to. And no, that does not mean making everything about the color pink and fashion.  

For the first time ever, looks like people are accessing the Web via their mobile devices rather than desktops.

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THE STREETS ARE TALKIN’


LinkedIn wants to know how much bank you got with LinkedIn Salary. Don’t worry. This is for good, not evil. The company wants to help people better gauge how much they should be making for a particular role. But, nothing in life is free. To gain access to the aggregated and anonymous salary info, you gotta share yours first. 

You’ll need to know your worth because the holiday season is here. Insta’s taking advantage. The app will now let people shop till they drop with 20 brands including J.Crew, Warby Parker, and JackThreads. Don’t be shy, hit that “shop now” button. 

The holidays aren’t just about buying material things. It’s the season for giving. Check out apps like ShareTheMeal, Donate a Photo, Tinbox, Charity Mile, etc. to give back. 

What else are the holidays good for? New Year resolutions and gym memberships. And, if you’re anything like us, you’ll never use them. ClassPass is ditching its premium membership for a la carte gym classes and three-class packages. Something to consider …

Uber’s learning more about you. The latest version of the app uses a combo of your past behavior and whatever you’ve got penciled into your calendar to prompt a suggested final destination. 

Microsoft Teams  allows teams to pow wow virtually. Sound familiar? Slack seems to think so. Looks like Microsoft’s going after the chat service with ‘Teams.’ But, Slack isn’t sweating it and took out a full-page ad in the New York Times. The ad is a welcome letter with a bit of advice for Microsoft on how to play in the space. Take a look at the full letter if you have the time. #ShadeMonster 

After three years, Twitter’s got plans to shut down Vine. You’ve still got a few more months to take in some of Vine’s best video loops before it’s gone for good.  

FUN (NOT SO) FACT


If some of the great classic writers were alive today, what would be their go to apps? Jane Austen would’ve probably been all over Bumble looking for bae.  

Virtual Skinny: Open Me!

10.12.2016

Good to Know: Open floor plans are the worst! Not even programmers like it. Hey companies! Are you paying attention? 

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When Big Brother Is Watching…

Chicago-based startup Geofeedia has been keeping tabs on people via their social media posts and then sharing that info with U.S. law enforcement.  

When You’re like Wait, Come Again?

Yesterday, the ACLU dropped a huge report uncovering how Geofeedia’s relationship with social networks helps law enforcement monitor and locate alleged criminals and protesters. Since users’ posts often come with personal info like their location, this isn’t  surveillanceexactly going over well. The ACLU says Geofeedia’s, helps police ‘disproportionately’ target black people, compromises free speech, and leads police directly to protest sites.
Just ask actress 
Shailene Woodley.

When You’re Waiting for Reactions …

After the ACLU let us in on Geofeedia’s secrets, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram immediately cut off the company’s access to their data. Geofeedia CEO Phil Harris says the company’s all for ‘personal privacy [and] transparency.’ #SideEye He needs more people because we don’t believe him. Meanwhile, ACLU says good for social platforms in cutting of Geofeedia’s access. But now, they need these companies to put public policies in place to prevent something like this from happening again.

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?


When You should be open to responding… 

Sometimes, you can’t go high when they go low. You’re probably well aware of the email leaks and hacks that’s causing quite the storm during this year’s U.S. presidential debate. The U.S. blames Russia, and it won’t be sitting idly. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said President Obama’s working on a ‘proportional’ response. The rest of us will be kept in the dark on what exactly that means, and it’s unclear whether we’ll ever find out. 

THE STREETS ARE TALKIN’


Holiday season’s coming up. Can’t afford a flight for your winter vay-cay? Say hello to black-owned company Airfordable. It’s lets folks pay for plane tickets in installments aka layaway. No more excuses … flight

Sony wants to turn its business around with its first major foray into virtual reality (VR) –  its US $399 Playstation VR headset.

Jungle Book director Jon Favreau wants in on the virtual reality game too. He’s working on a new movie with the studio Wevr called Gnomes and Goblins. It’ll be an interactive VR experience. Sign.Us.UP!

VR, it’s not just for games and entertainment. Chinese Internet company Alibaba’s financial arm is out with VR Pay – a new payment system. How does it work? Use VR goggles to shop VR malls. See something you like? Just nod your head, and it’s yours! No worries … Retailers will know it’s you buying up a storm and not a ‘rando’ by using account logins and passwords to verify. VR Pay is available commercial use by the end of year.   

Rumor has it that Amazon’s looking to open up convenience stores in California to help support its possible drive-through grocery pick up locations. The company has yet to confirm or deny. But, what is confirmed? Amazon’s Alexa-powered music service aka Amazon Music Unlimited goes live today for US $4/month. #HappyListening 

Service robots to take care of persona and domestic tasks will be a thing at least for the next three years.

MAKING MOVES


Or not … Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg is staying put. She has no plans to join a potential Hillary Clinton Administration. #ForTheRecord

Virtual Skinny: Where’s The October Surprise?

10.7.2016

(WOD) Word of the Day: Virtual Reality describes a computer-generated environment that’s similar to real life but not quite. Side note: Virtual Reality is all the rage so it really should be the word for the month of October.

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When You’re Waiting for the ‘October Surprise…’

This week, Wikileaks’ Julian Assange announced that he’ll be putting Google, the U.S. presidential election process, mass surveillance, etc. on blast over the next 10 weeks. 

When You Thought Sh*t Would Hit the Fan …

The 10-week timeline was unexpected. Assange held a press conference earlier this week where he told us about his new plan.  Rather than letting us in on some alleged truth bombs right then and there, Assange decided against it due to security concerns.  That’s what we call an October Surprise!

When You’re Not Sure What to Expect …

If you’ll remember, Assange’s release of the Democratic National Conventions’ (DNC) emails back in June forced Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz to step down as the DNC’s Chair. So it’s expected that the upcoming leaks may derail Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid. We’ve been put on notice that the latest documents related to the election will come out Nov. 6 (the day before the election). Assange won’t go as far as to confirm that he’s trying to host the #HillaryIsOverParty, but, he did say the info he has is ‘significant’ and will reveal ‘interesting features of US power factions.’ 

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?


From Bad to Worse …

This week, reports came out that Yahoo was low-key using custom software to search through users’ emails. The company has neither confirmed nor denied this but looks like the U.S. government (NSA) may have made them do it. Some people who know about government surveillance are saying that this might just be the first time that an Internet company has complied with this type of government request. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer made the call to move forward on the request though it seems some of her subordinates probably disagreed. Twitter, Microsoft, Google, and other tech companies said ‘not it’  and would like to be excluded from this narrative. Meanwhile, since Yahoo can’t stay away from the drams lately, Verizon is asking for a billion dollar discount off the initial US $4.8 billion sale price.

THE STREETS ARE TALKIN’


Snap, Inc. aka Snapchat wants to keep up with the Joneses. To get on the same level as Google and Facebook, it needs more money. IPO, anyone? Rumor has it that the company’s first public sale will do down early next year for a cool US $25 billion (at least). 

What a difference a week makes! Twitter was getting ready to hand out a rose to one of its potential suitors (Google, Disney, and Apple). Rumors of a potential acquisition by any of the three sent Twitter’s stock price up.  Then just like that all three backed away. Twitter’s stock went back down. Salesforce is the last company standing for now. #EmotionalRollercoaster  

Blood-testing company Theranos has been through A LOT of regulatory and business challenges. At one time, the company was valued at US $9 billion but now – not so much. Theranos just dropped over 40% of its employees like they were hot (and not in a good way). It’s also shutting down its clinical labs and blood-testing center. 

Blackberry doesn’t want to make its own smartphones anymore. It’s passing that off to its partners. With that said, expect a new Blackberry smartphone with a physical keyboard within the next six months.

Google’s going all in on hardware. The company just announced a slew of new products taking aim at its competitors. Say hello to Pixel (smartphone), Google Home (the company’s response to Amazon’s Echo); Daydream (virtual reality headset), Chromecast, etc. 

Facebook’s working with White House officials to make the Internet accessible all across America via its Free Basics program.  The program’s had issues in India, and it won’t get any better in the U.S. but worth the try. Meanwhile, FB was all VR every-thang. The social network wants to help people emote better via its ‘VR emoji.’  

virtual reality

Over the summer, home rental site AirBnB sued the city of San Francisco for trying to enforce a law that would require listings on the site to be verified by the city. AirBnB wants a federal judge to put an end to this requirement, but the judge seemed skeptical. Unclear where the case is headed, but New York’s probably got next.  

 

Virtual Skinny: Who Run The World?

9.30.2016

WOD (Word of the Day): Artificial intelligence is an area of computer science that focuses on creating ‘intelligent’ computers that have human-like reactions. Yup, just like you see in the movies. 

irobot

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When You Need to Diversify …

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) dropped a discrimination lawsuit against data-mining startup Palantir Technologies. Fun Fact: Palantir’s software helped track down Osama bin Laden right before the U.S. took him out. #TheMoreYouKnow 

When You Need to Know More …

Turns out that the DOL found that Palantir has been turning away Asian applicants from engineering gigs in droves. The agency says Asian applicants were ‘routinely’ weeded out during initial stages (i.e., résumé screening and telephone interview). #PlotTwist 

When This Isn’t What You’re Used To …  

Cisco exec Barry Gee says discrimination cases involving Asians in Silicon Valley isn’t the typical storyline (these cases usually involve black and Hispanic applicants) though he admits Asians do get shut out of management roles. 

When Things Are Unclear …

So far, specific numbers to back up the DOL’s allegations are unclear. In the meantime, Palantir is denying any wrongdoing. And, the company should hope things are on the up and up because any findings of wrongdoing could cancel its federal contracts worth US $340 millie.

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?


When You Want to See Results …

The larger tech industry continues to struggle with diversity across the board (underrepresented minorities, women, etc). The industry’s taking a page from the National Football League’s (NFL) playbook. Tech and Internet companies are applying the ‘Rooney Rule’ to help up their diversity numbers. How does it work? Companies like Facebook, Pinterest, Amazon, and Microsoft are using the rule to make sure that at least one woman or underrepresented minority is interviewed for a position. Could help bring in a more diverse applicant pool, but companies shouldn’t get it twisted. It’s not just about getting people interviews. The issue runs much deeper. #UnconsciousBias  

How to Not See Results …

Investor and serial entrepreneur John Greathouse thought he was giving sound advice to women in tech when he advised that they ‘create an online presence that obscures their gender’ (e.g., use your initials for  job apps or when seeking startup funding). Greathouse said women should create a ‘neutral online presence’ to avoid gender-bias.  Studies apparently show that men are less likely to find female names likeable. Greathouse learned very quickly what happens when a good deed goes wrong. Many women and some men were not having it, and immediately responded with comments, posts, blogs, etc. See here, here, and here. Moral of the story: Not a great idea to suggest workarounds a problem without making suggestions to solve the actual problem. Greathouse has since apologized. We gotta ask: Despite the backlash, does Greathouse have a point until the larger problems are fixed? Sound off in the comments!

thinking

Who Run The World?

Melinda Gates wants girls to run the tech world. She’s now turning her attention to the lack of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math). Gates, who earned a computer science degree from Duke and previously worked at Microsoft for a decade, is concerned that the percentage of women in computer science has plummeted from 37 percent to 18 percent since the ‘80s. Her plan is to assess the problem before deciding where resources should go to bring solutions. #StrengthInNumbers  

Switching Gears …

First India and now Germany.  If you’ll remember, people were not happy when WhatsApp announced that it would start sharing its users’ data with Facebook. German regulators just threw a flag on WhatsApp’s play. They say German users didn’t give the go ahead on any of it, which violates its data protection laws. The regulators want Facebook to stop collecting WhatsApp data and to hit the delete on all German users’ data collected already. Facebook plans to fight Germany on this. The company probably keep its defenses up because Italy is giving the company major side-eye on the same issue. 

IT’S ALL IN THE NUMBERS…


Looks like folks aren’t sold yet on self-driving cars. New Kelley Blue Book survey found that 80% of survey participants said we should “always have the option to drive themselves;” 64% need to be in control of their own vehicle; and 62% just enjoy driving.

THE STREETS ARE TALKIN’


Google, Facebook, Amazon, IBM, and Microsoft have partnered up to make moves on artificial intelligence and come up with best practices for it. #TeamWorkMakesTheDreamWork 

Salesforce just threw a wrench into Microsoft’s plan to buy LinkedIn. The company is asking European regulators to put the kibosh on the deal. Something about the deal will be a threat t’o future innovation and competition.’

Snap, Inc. formerly known as Snapchat is out with its ‘Snapchat Spectacles’ complete with a wearable camera. They’re going for US $130. Add that to your holiday gifts list. 

specs4

Loads of content plus a social platform could equal a potential Disney acquisition of Twitter. The social media platform lost a controversial user. Venture capital investor Marc Andreessen decided to call it quits on the Twitterverse. He’s apparently feeling ‘free as a bird.’ #PunIntended 

Music streaming service Spotify has also got buying on its brain. Soundcloud could be it’s next target. If it works out, it’s music to Soundcloud’s ear since the company’s been struggling and looking for a way to exit stage left. Meanwhile, Spotify’s finally saying hello to Japan, the world’s second largest music market (worth over US $2.5 billion). #BetterLateThanNever 

Queen B (aka Beyonce) just made her first foray into tech with a US $150,000 investment in Sidestep, an app for buying concert ‘merch’ that also helps you head straight to the counter to pick up your new swag. 

What Was Trending This Week … 


Mary J. Blige can add host to her resume. Mary’s hosting ‘The 411’ on Beats 1. This week, she interviewed Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton then the R&B singer sang to Hillz about police brutality. We’ll let you draw your own conclusions, but check out the full interview here. Happy Friday!

 

Virtual Skinny: Run and Tell That … 

9.23.2016

Good to Know: Calling all U.S. citizens: Have you registered to vote? Facebook just launched its first voter registration drive. Just log onto your account. There’s literally no excuse so run and tell that! 
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THE SKINNY


When You’ve Been Keeping A Secret and have to tell… 
Yesterday, Yahoo announced that about 500 million email accounts were hacked courtesy of a ‘state-sponsored’ attack. That’s 300 million more than the company originally thought. This is probably the largest data breach of all time. Kind of a big deal …
When You Need More Deats … 
Turns out the hack went down back in 2014, but Yahoo just learned about it in recent months (allegedly). The good news? Unprotected passwords and banking info weren’t stolen. The bad news? The list of stolen information is longer and includes things like: protected passwords, security questions and answers, email addresses, telephone numbers, birth dates, etc. #NoBueno.
When You Need To Protect Yourself … 
Go ahead and change the password to your Yahoo email account like yesterday (especially if you haven’t done so since 2014). Avoid ‘weak’ passwords like ‘Password123;’ Password managers such as 1Password and LastPass can help. Once that’s done, think through your log in information for sensitive accounts like your online banking. If your previous Yahoo email password and/or security Q&As could be remotely similar, go ahead and change those passwords too.  We know … SUCH a headache! #BetterSafeThanSorry
When It’s All Bad … 
Yahoo users aren’t the only ones that need to worry.  This is a massive data breach that’s caught the attention of pretty much everyone and their moms.  And, Yahoo’s reported US $4.8 billion sale to Verizon could be on the line. Can Yahoo catch a break or what?

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON? 

When It’s Been Another Tough Week … 
The killings of Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Terence Crutcher and Charlotte, North Carolina’s Keith Lamont Scott has left many feeling disheartened and outraged by the ongoing issue of police officers’ use of force against civilians. People are calling for transparency so we can all have an honest discussion. San Francisco-based nonprofit startup Bayes Impact is working on a new data tool to track ‘violent encounters between officers and civilians.’ Turns out the data on these incidents to date are terrible. Even the FBI’s numbers are off to say the least when it comes to homicides committed by police. Bayes Impact is asking California police departments to record ‘use of force’ incidents (i.e., shooting or assault that leads to death or serious injuries) on its platform called Ursus. Gotta start somewhere …
When You Need A Court Date … 
Not too long ago, messaging app WhatsApp put its users on notice that it would start sharing users’ data with Facebook. It had money from ads on the brain when it made the change. Many people were not happy. Two Indian college students Karmanya Singh Sareen and Shreya Sethi were so peeved that they went ahead and filed a court action law suit against Facebook. In the name of privacy and security, they want the Delhi High Court to tell Facebook to change the WhatsApp privacy policy back to the one we all knew and loved. WhatsApp says privacy and security are non-issues since it’s got end-to-end encryption for messages sent over the platform. 
When You’re Not the Only One Taking Things Back.. 
Google’s Allo is a new messaging app . When the company first introduced its version of  WhatsApp, it made some pretty big statements about privacy and security. We were promised an end-to-end encrypted Incognito Mode. The company also said messages wouldn’t be stored forever but just for a short time. This week, we learned that’s not the case. Messages sent while in the Incognito Mode will be stored by default, and it’s up to the user to actively delete messages. Before you rush to judge, Google says it made the change for a good reason:  To make a quality ‘smart reply’ function, which won’t work well if there’s no data available.

THE STREETS ARE TALKIN’ 

LinkedIn helps you get a job and now it wants to help you keep it with LinkedIn Learning. The feature relies on Lynda.com courses to help sharpen people’s skills in areas like business, creative, and technology.
Speaking of getting your learn on, MIT’s letting people learn first and pay later for grad level courses through MOOC platform edX.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Dr. Priscilla Chan made a huge announcement this week.  They’re following in the footsteps of Bill and Melinda Gates and plan to donate US $3 billion to figure out how to cure diseases within the next decade.
Apple may or may not be in acquisition talks with ‘supercar’ company McLaren
Japan just added ‘priests’ to the growing list of people we can get on-demand. Who knew?

WOD (WORD OF THE DAY)

End-to-end encryption: A way to protect information being sent over communication platforms (e.g., WhatsApp) so it can only by read by the people involved in the chat. Third parties won’t be able to access the conversation.  In other words, end-to-end encryption is technology’s way of saying: “This is an ‘A’ and ‘B’ conversation so ‘C’ your way out.’ #Boom 

Virtual Skinny: We Made It!

9.20.2016

Good to Know: ‘Skittles are candy; refugees are people’ – Statement made by Wrigley, the makers of Skittles, after Donald Jr. tweeted a meme comparing refugees to skittles. Add that to the long list of things not to do in politics alongside posting a question to Reddit about how to strip a ‘VERY VIP’s’ email address from archived e-mails.  

skittles refugee tweet

MAMA, WE MADE IT!


Hope your week is starting off as awesome as ours. We’re happy to announce that the Virtual Skinny turns 1 this month! Thank you for keeping up with us. Celebrate by helping spread the word about us to your friends! Please ask five of your closest friends to join the fun and subscribe at thevirtualskinny.com

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THE SKINNY


When You Say Yes to DriveRless …

The Obama Administration just gave a thumbs up to self-driving cars with some gentle guidance. Yesterday, President Obama penned an Op-Ed in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to talk about it. (Fun Fact: Pittsburgh is also where Uber’s testing out its self-driving fleet).

When This Isn’t A Free for All …

This week, the U.S. Transportation Department issued guidelines on how driverless cars can strike the right balance between being a cool, new innovation while keeping people safe on the road. But, how? The focus is less on specific regulations (Think: seat belt laws) and more on best practices like how driverless cars should respond when the technology fails, protecting passenger privacy, and protecting passengers during a crash. The government’s also looking to get data on companies’ latest systems and crashes that occur. It’s all part of the 15-point safety standard.

When You Hear Something …

That’s the sound of the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets advocacy group applauding this move by the U.S. government. Its members are the usual suspects: Google’s parent Alphabet Inc., Ford Motor Co., Uber Technologies Inc., Lyft Inc., and Volvo Car Corp. Tesla Motors is noticeably missing.

When You Draw The Line Somewhere…

The Obama Administration made it clear. It’ll leave things like driver’s licenses, car registrations, traffic laws, insurance, and legal liabilities to the states to handle. But, the federal government has marked its territory when it comes to laying down any law when it comes to driverless cars. 

When You’re Looking to the Future …

Director of the National Economic Council Jeffrey Zients said the future will have us all saying ‘look ma, no hands’ while freeing up commuters to relax or get some work done. Way more productive than the occasional road rage. Zients says autonomous cars ‘will save time, money, and lives.’  Ride-hailing service Lyft is right there with him. The company’s president John Zimmer predicts that most Lyft rides will be in self-driving cars by 2021.

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?


When You Hit the Panic Button …

Over the weekend, New York and New Jersey got a major scare. First, an explosion went down in New Jersey near the a charity race (luckily no one was injured). Then, another in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood. This time 29 people were injured but not seriously. Authorities sent out a ‘loud’ emergency alert to NYC residents’ smartphones letting them know to look out for the suspect – 28-year-old Ahmad Khan Rahami. He’s since been apprehended. Investigations are under way. Meanwhile, Uber is getting slammed for surge pricing right after the NYC explosion. And, angry Internet users are leaving negative reviews of First American Fried Chicken (Rahimi’s family-owned restaurant) on Yelp.

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When There are exceptions to the rules …

Skittles are to refugees as bitcoin is to dollar bills. In other words, the U.S. federal government has been pretty clear that bitcoin isn’t ‘legal tender’ aka ‘real money.’ But, that’s not a hard and fast rule. There’s one exception. Bitcoin is considered money if it’s involved in a financial crime. Anthony Murgio learned that the hard way. Murgio is alleged to have illegally run Coin.mx, a bitcoin exchange involved in the cybercrime ring that targeted firms like JPMorganChase. Prosecutors brought two charges against Murgio. He tried to be slick by using the ‘bitcoin aren’t funds’ argument. U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan didn’t buy it and said that Murgio’s charges still stand. 

THE STREETS ARE TALKIN’


Let’s get social …

Twitter’s finally allowing its users to send out longer tweets. You’ll still have 140 characters to say what you need to but images, videos, GIFs, and polls won’t count.

Facebook’s showing more signs that it’s getting serious about its #NextBillion users. The company just brought on Anand Chandrasekaran, formerly of India e-commerce startup Snapdeal, to help lead the company’s efforts on Messenger. 

Is It Time for Another Vacation, Yet?

Google Trips is a new mobile app to help planning each day of your upcoming trip a little easier. Need information on day plans, reservations, things to do, or food & drink? It’s gotchu.  

When You’re Still Shopping Around…

Facebook has always got something going on. This time, it’s focusing on hardware. The company just bought California startup Nascent Objects, creators of the ‘first modular consumer electronic platform.’ That’s nerd speak for creating a space where average non-techie folks can design and test out new products at low costs. 

Google snatched up API.AI, a company that helps build Siri-type bots that can have decent chats with humans in 15 languages including English, Chinese, French, Spanish, and German. 

In Other Good News …

Larry Ellison isn’t mincing words. Oracle’s gearing up to take on Amazon in the cloud services game. The company plans to take an aggressive approach. 

School’s back in session. And this fall, 2,000 schools in the U.S. will offer AP Computer Science courses. #ThanksObama 

The United Nations’ released a mini-documentary called Clouds Over Sidra about a young Syrian refugee. The organization quickly found out that virtual reality (VR) headsets are the ‘the ultimate empathy machine.’ VR helps people feel more connected to a subject, then they feel compelled to donate funds. 

HELLO WORLD!


AirBnb just bought Barcelona-based startup Trip4Real, offering a marketplace for activities during your next vay-cay. 

South African Internet firm Naspers is getting into the online classified ads game Stateside. It’s going after Craigslist – big time.

WOD (WORD OF THE DAY)


The ‘Cloud’: AKA ‘cloud computing’;  Not an actual ‘cloud’ involving condensed water vapor. But rather, the term refers to storing information on servers that are housed in remote data centers. We can access information pretty easily via the InterWebs (think DropBox). And now, businesses are getting in on the cloud because it’s reliable, secure, and cost-effective. Businesses aren’t settling for just storing their information in offsite locations. They’re also moving towards running applications and services directly from the cloud! #TheMoreYouKnow

Virtual Skinny: Wednesday Wisdom

9.7.2016

Good to Know:  Here’s your Wednesday Wisdom. Working on a startup? Look for venture capital money? At the very least, avoid these 11 things to up your chances of success. 

THE SKINNY


When Christmas Comes Early …

Today is Apple Inc’s annual product launch event in San Francisco.

When You Know What to Expect …

Ever since Apple sent out its “See You on the Seventh” invites, the blogosphere’s been abuzz about what’s likely to go down today. One word: iPhone 7. The latest iPhone is said to have minor changes from the ‘6’ version with things like a touch sensitive home button. The major change: No headphone jack. Apple has gone wireless so you can listen to your jam or watch your fave show without wires getting in the way. 

When You Don’t Know It All …

Unclear how much the ‘7’ will go for in terms of price. Other than the phone, there’s rumbles about a new Apple Watch version but not much has been leaked about it. Gotta keep some things close to the vest …

When Patience Is Still A Virtue …

With no major changes to the ‘7,’ analysts are feeling underwhelmed. They suggest that you wait it out till next year for the ‘8.’ Next year’s the 10th anniversary of the iPhone so they’re predicting major changes like ‘a wider display that reaches from one edge of the device to the other.’ In the meantime, the new iOS 10 software update is bringing us less text and more visuals in iMessage (i.e., stickers, funny faces, animated balloons, etc).

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?


Summer’s Over …

Time to get serious.  Twitter’s board of directors is huddling up this Thursday. On the agenda? To sell or not to sell. Twitter’s been struggling to perform well. In other words, it’s trying to grow its user-base and bring in more dolla bills. Co-founder and board member Evan Williams said the company needs to “consider the right options.” Looks like the options are selling to whoever can afford an US $18 billion company (Google, Apple, 21st Century Fox or News Corp. could be potential buyers). Option B? Another round of staff layoffs. The struggle is real …

This Was Not Part of the Plan …

Last week, Mark Zuckerberg surprised everyone when he headed to the continent. And by the continent, we mean Africa. The Zuck’s first stop? Lagos, Nigeria where it was biz mixed with a bit of fun: He visited a kids coding camp called the CcHub, had a Q&A with local entrepreneurs, sat down to dinner with Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, and even crashed a Nigerian hip hop video set. Zuckerberg said ‘Nigeria’s tech story is “under-appreciated across the world.” But, some local techies aren’t buying it. They are unimpressed by Zuck’s visit and want FB to build a true partnership with Africa’s tech community.

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Please Tell Me More…

Looks like Zuck’s got big plans for Africa, but he learned during his trip that he had a f*@# problem. Back stateside in Florida, a SpaceX rocket ship exploded and took down one of FB’s satellites used to beam high-speed Internet to Africa. Yikes!

It’s Not Translating …

According to reports, “democracy,” “human rights,” and “hunger strike,” are not in the Cuban government’s vocabulary. The government’s been blocking people’s text messages containing those words. Unclear how long this alleged filtering has been going on … 

THE STREETS ARE TALKIN’


Snapchat’s ditching its ‘local stories,’ the features that let’s you see what’s happening in big cities. It’s cut the ‘small team’ responsible and is now eyeing live events as a replacement. 

You’ll soon be able to search the Google machine by outfits. The upcoming feature, “Shop the Look,” will pull up outfits published by fashion bloggers in search.

Pandora plans to launch two new music services (US $10 Spotify type service so you and your tunes will always be together whenever and wherever & US $5 that’s a slight upgrade from its free web radio). Still waiting on when the official public announcement will go down since Pandora’s still trying to finalize things with music label partners. 

Box (the business version of DropBox) just worked on a collabo project with IBM called Box Relay to custom build work processes. 

WOD (WORD OF THE DAY)  


Demonetization: Think YouTube. The process of not allowing certain YouTube videos to make money off of ads because of its ‘unfriendly’ content. The company’s been in the demonetization game since 2012, but YouTube video makers didn’t know about it until last week. Turns out YouTube’s software isn’t perfect, and some legit and friendly videos got caught up in the mix. Unfortunately, some YouTube video makers haven’t been making their ‘pay-pah.’

Virtual Skinny: Stand Up for Your Rights

8.30.2016

Good to Know: Need to manage paper business cards? Mobile apps CamCard and ScanBizCards could help.

THE SKINNY


When You Take People Out GoT Style …

Last Friday, Facebook axed its Trending Topics team of humans with almost no warning. #Savage

When You Need An Explanation …

A little while back, FB was all up in the headlines for its alleged human bias in the type of stories picked up by Trending Topics. Some said the stories leaned more left than right, especially when it came to political news. Naturally, U.S. Republicans stepped in. As far as we knew, it was water under the bridge. But, not quite.

When You’ve Taken A Stand …

You may have noticed that Trending Topics no longer shows short summaries of news article. Instead, you just see the number of people talking about a topic. Well, that’s because FB decided it was better to swap out human editors for algorithms (Algorithms: Rules that tells computers what to do). The justification? FB said it’s listening to its community. And, the move “allows [FB] to scale Trending to cover more topics and make it available to more people globally over time.” 

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When You Can’t Fact Check …

Within about 48 hours of computers taking over Trending Topics, FB ran into some … issues. What had happened was its algorithms picked up a fake news story about Megyn Kelly being fired. Not true, Megyn Kelly is still gainfully employed by Fox News. Whoops!

When You’re Being Dragged …

FB removed the fake story, but it’s still not immune from being dragged via Twitter because some people can’t stand the change. BTW, the Zuck says it has no plans to transition from tech to media.  Journalists are calling B.S. because FB is a master at selling its users’ attention to advertisers. Could a potential #JournalistsFurtherExposesFBParty be brewing on the Twitterverse? 

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WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?


B*tch Better Have My Money …

The European Union (EU) warned Apple not to call it on its bluff. In today’s ruling, the EU ordered Apple, Inc. to hand over a record US $14.5 billion (13 billion Euros) in back taxes to Ireland. This whole drams comes down to the EU believing that Ireland played faves with Apple with it came to taxes. To be clear, the EU is saying that Ireland gave Apple tax benefits for the past two decades. And, under EU law, this type of special tax treatment is a major no-no. Apple is understandably peeved about the decision. Ireland’s got Apple’s back and plans to appeal. Even, the U.S. government has piped up and is basically saying that the EU’s decision is no bueno and could hurt US-EU biz relations and even turn potential foreign business away from the EU. 

Is This Happening Or Nah?

Everyone expected a tech bust about a year ago, but it didn’t happen. HOW, Sway? We get the confusion. This time a year ago, investors were throwing money at on-demand delivery start-ups and Uber like one of Oprah’s giveaways. A crash seemed like a sure thing, but then startups got smart and started saving more and spending less on things like perks. Also, foreign investment money from countries like Saudi Arabia helped. A tech crash could still happen but probably not any time soon.

THE STREETS ARE TALKIN’


Amazon’s work schedule (especially for its technical team) is no joke … Soul crushing even. The company may finally be making a change. It’s testing out a 30-hour work week with a portion of its technical team (Monday through Thursday from 10 AM to 2 PM). The experimental group will still get the same benefits as everyone else, but they’ll be getting paid 25% less.  

Twitter is trying to do what Instagram just did to Snapchat. The microblogging site is following in YouTube’s footsteps. It wants to reward its most popular users with cash money if they create video content for the site. Twitter’s offering its top users a 70% (content creators) -30% (Twitter) split in revenue – a better deal than YouTube’s 55%-45% split. Not sure if the deal will help bring in creators though since YouTube and other similar platforms are so far ahead in the game. 

MAKIN’ MOVES


Uber said “you can’t sit with us” to Alphabet’s Chief Legal Officer David Drummond. Since Uber and Google are actively working on self-driving projects, Drummond decided to step down from the ride-hailing company’s board.