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: Open Up!

8.26.2016

Good to Know: Need to kill some time on a Friday? Google ‘solitaire’ or ‘tic-tac-toe’ and get your game on…Enjoy! 

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THE SKINNY


When You’re Doing An About-Face …

Messaging app WhatsApp was hell-bent on protecting its users privacy, but things change.

When You’re Not Selling Out Completely …

To be fair, WhatsApp isn’t completely going back on its word. It just announced that it’ll be sharing ‘limited data’ (including phone numbers) with Facebook, it’s parent company. In case you forgot, FB bought WhatsApp for a whooping US $22 billion back in 2014.

When You’re Not Sure Why This Is Happening …

There are a number of reasons for the change. Better friend suggestions is one … Getting better FB ads and just having a better experience with the app generally are others … And, even helping businesses offer better customer service is also on the list. In other words, WhatsApp need to make money.

When You’re Trying to Be Open …

WhatsApp understands that this privacy policy change doesn’t look good, but it wants users to know that it’s encryption game is still hella strong. But if you’d rather be excluded from this narrative all together, you’ve got a couple of options. You can opt-out right away or within a month if you’ve already agreed to the app’s new terms.

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WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?


Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’?

This week, rapper Frank Ocean released his long, looooooooong awaited album called, Blonde. Ocean released his latest work independently and got his work to the masses via iTunes and Apple Music. Turns out this is a nightmare scenario for record labels. If artists aren’t happy with their record label contracts, what’s stopping them from putting out music on their own then turning to music streaming services for distribution? Well, the answer is nothing (assuming the artist is no longer under contract). Record labels are shaking in their boots. We’ve even heard that Universal Music Group is banning ‘streaming exclusives’ for its artists. Ocean’s the first to break away from a major record label and do something like this. Now the question is … Who’s next? Bey? Drake?  How much longer before music labels are a thing of the past?  

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See Something, Say Something …

Before we all started hating EpiPen maker Mylan for it’s ridiculously high prices for the live-saving allergy treatment, actress Mellini Kantayya learned about the whole thing via her Facebook friends back in July. Kantayya launched an online petition called ‘Stop the EpiPen Price Gouging, which went viral. Then, others jumped in on the ‘social’ discussion. Robyn O’Brien, founder of AllergyKids.com, started the ‘EpiGate’ hashtag. And just like that, the #EpiGate turned into one of the biggest news stories of the summer. Never underestimate the power of social media…

THE STREETS ARE TALKIN’


Presidents and Wanna Be Presidents …

Check out this 11-minute video and President Obama’s Yosemite National Park visit in VR (formally known as virtual reality). The video is courtesy of Facebook-owned Oculus and VR content studio Felix and Paul Studios. Or skip the video and check out the President watching himself in VR. 

President Barack Obama watches a virtual reality film captured during his trip to Yosemite National Park earlier this year, in the Outer Oval Office, Aug. 24, 2016. Personal aide Ferial Govashiri sits at her desk at left. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama watches a virtual reality film captured during his trip to Yosemite National Park earlier this year, in the Outer Oval Office, Aug. 24, 2016. Personal aide Ferial Govashiri sits at her desk at left. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

These days you gotta meet people where they are … That’s why Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are forking over $$$ for ads on Snapchat. Video ads are where it’s at to reach America’s youth.

Cars You Drive and Those That Drive Themselves…

Somehow Uber managed to drain US $1.27 BILLION dollars in just 6 months. In Uber’s world, it’s literally a drop in the bucket. Price competition from Lyft and drivers’ subsidies are partly to blame. Speaking of Uber drivers, retirement plans are in their future (sort of). Uber’s linked up with robo-advisor Betterment to set up drivers with IRAs or Roth IRAs.

When you did it first … Singapore’s nuTonomy just became the first company to get the world’s first self-driving taxis on the road. Still in test mode but still a very big deal. Uber and Google are working on it but aren’t there yet. 

Add Amazon to the automotive list. It’s launched a new hub to help those in the market for new rides compare specs, prices, and get smart before making a purchase. It’s all about building that ‘automotive community.’

How to Avoid Being Hangry …

More on Amazon … It’s taking a cue from Walmart. Shop groceries with the online retailer and then pick up your loot at a nearby drive-in location. No more wasting time by waiting for those deliveries at your door. Yay! That’s the plan at least… Amazon’s still testing things out.  

Southern Global Hospitality…

It hasn’t been smooth sailing for home sharing service AirBnB as of late. It’s been dealing with some heavy subjects like racism and discrimination on the app. But, not every host on the app is a jerk. Over 300 hosts are taking in people for free that have been devastated by the natural disasters in Italy, Louisiana, and Cali. It’s all part of the company’s disaster response program. #GoodWork

Keep Me Entertained …

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. First Instagram, now Apple.  The iPhone maker is working on a video feature reminiscent of Snapchat.

Pandora just got a new partner, and it makes sense. The Root’s Questlove and the music streaming service are doing a lil collabo called “Questlove Supreme,” a weekly radio show. The ‘black nerd version of NPR’ kicks off on Sept. 7.

Introducing Fans.com, a social network for all things concerts. 

So, North Korea’s apparently working on a Netflix-type service called ‘ManBang.’ Interesting move since a ton of North Korean citizens aren’t even allowed to access the InterWebs. Things that make you go hmmm…

So Not Entertaining …

Internet trolls truly outdid themselves this week. If you remember, not too long ago the Cincinnati Zoo had to unfortunately take down Harambe (one of its gorillas). People were outraged and started trolling not only the zoo but it’s director on social. Things got so bad, the zoo said ‘screw this, we’re out.’ It got off of social.  

Things went from bad to worse when we learned that also this week, Saturday Night Live and Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones was hacked. It’s been a rollercoaster summer for the celeb who was the target of vicious racist attacks on Twitter. We thought things calmed down, but that was a mistake. Hackers got access to some explicit pics of Leslie and her passport info then posted them to her official website (complete with racial remarks). The website’s been taken down, other celebs rallied behind Leslie, and the Department of Homeland Security is investigating. #DoBetter 

MAKIN’ MOVES


Tech magazine Wired is losing another exec. Mark McClusky turned in his two-week notice and will be heading back to Sports Illustrated to run its digital division.

Virtual Skinny: Diamonds and Pearls…

4.22.2016

Good to Know:  Let your life shine bright like a diamond by spring cleaning with these organizational apps

THE SKINNY


When We’ve Lost Another Great One …

STUNNED is what we all were after learning that 57-year old, legendary pop star Prince passed away yesterday. No official word yet on the cause. So far, reports are citing his recent hospitalization for flu-like symptoms Regardless, it was a sad day for not only music lovers but the world.  Insanely private, Prince was incredibly humanitarian. #YesWeCode, an initiative to teach people of color how to code, is just one of his many social contributions.  #RIP #Prince

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When It’s Time to Pay Tribute …

Pretty much everyone, including celebs, took to social media to share their condolences.   Hit Broadway shows, namely Hamilton and the Color Purple, paid special tributes. But for us regular folks who wanted to stream his music, you probably had a hard time finding his work online.

When You Want To Stream “Diamonds and Pearls…” 

It’s no secret that Prince was no fan of YouTube and Spotify. In 2015, he pulled most of his work from streaming services and decided to work exclusively with Tidal, a streaming service owned by rapper turned mogul Jay Z aka Beyoncé’s hubby.  Tidal’s mission is to be more artist-friendly by giving them more money for each music stream and allowing artists to have more control over their work on the service. Prince, being protective of his image, was on board.

When Not All Hope Is Lost …

Even if you’re not a Tidal subscriber, you can still find ways to stream some of Prince’s music. Check it out here.

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?


Ugh, Not This Again …

The European Union doesn’t play when it comes to Google and alleged antitrust violations. It has officially charged the company with “abusing its power” with the Android operating system.  Apparently, Google requiring phone makers to pre-install some of its apps like Google Search and Google Chrome is no buneo. Kind of a big deal since Android is a monkey maker for the company, bringing in $11 billion in ad sales alone last year.

When You’re Ready to Settle …

A bunch of Uber drivers in Massachusetts and California sued the company over their employment status. The drivers wanted to be considered employees, but Uber was like nah, they’re just independent contractors. The employee v. independent contractor status matters when it comes down to benefits. But, looks like a judge won’t have to decide either way. Uber settled the case for US $100 million, of which $84 million is reserved for the drivers. That amount could increase depending on whether the company’s value continues to grow. Uber agreed to change up some of its practices and help set up a drivers’ association in each state. Copy cats, anyone?

QUICK POLL – RUN THOSE NUMBERS …


The FBI shelled out US $1.3 MILLION to crack that San Bernardino iPhone. That’s more than the FBI Director James Comey’s total compensation for the remaining seven years of his tenure. Yikes!

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THE STREETS ARE TALKIN’


Feel more like a local on your next trip with AirBnB’s “Guidebook.”

Twitter users came for Snapchat after the company released its Bob Marley filter in honor of 4/20 aka the unofficial weed “holiday.” They weren’t here for virtual blackface. So, Snapchat put out a factual statement claiming that it works with Bob Marley’s estate on the feature. No apology needed.

While we’re talking Snapchat, looks like MTV Cribs is coming back via the app.

The Shade Room thinks Facebook (FB) is being shady. The popular gossip publisher, a place where people can “go in” on the latest pop culture news, had its fair share of drams this week. It was booted off FB for alleged copyright violations. The publisher, which got its start on Instagram and now has over 4 million followers, says it had no warning.  #TheShadeOfItAll

In other FB news, the social media platform could soon allow you to cash in on your posts with “tip jar.”

Wedding season is upon us. If you’re getting married (Mazel!), HoneyFund is here to help you get those coins together for your honeymoon.

Virtual Skinny: No-no-no-NOTORIOUS!

4.4.2016

Good to Know:  Techies are notorious for acronyms. Here’s a guide to what letter combos like MVP (minimal viable product) and UV (unique viewers) mean. 

THE SKINNY

When You Gotta Get Those Pay-pers …

The “Panama Papers” that is … Yesterday, the entire world learned about Mossack Fonseca, a Panamanian law firm at the center of what is being called the biggest leak of private documents to date.  In other words, this leak makes Edward Snowden’s NSA leak look like child’s play.

When You Want to Know What’s Going On …

Well, it really took one push of a button. About a year ago, an anonymous source sent an encrypted message to German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ).  The message contained documents leaked from the Panamanian law firm about shell companies and offshore accounts belonging to some major celebs, politicians, and even organizations (ahem, FIFA) that are no strangers to alleged corruption.  Within a year, the stack grew to 2.6 terabytes of data. Basically, that’s enough information to fit onto just under 450 CDs (Remember those? Talk about Throwback!)…

When You’re No-no-no-NOTORIOUS

After SZ got their hands on the docs, it sent the information over to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Apparently, sifting through these docs is a joint effort – 107 media companies (including BBC Panoroma) spread across 78 countries are involved.  Already, we know that these docs discuss things like $2 billion that link to Russian president Vladimir Putin and his peeps, Iceland’s Prime Minister’s undeclared stakes in an offshore company, and members of FIFA.

When You Want No Misunderstandings …

To be clear, some shell companies are actually legit. For instance, the media believes Apple created shell company, SixtyEight Research, to secretly build a car with minimal media attention. Even tax avoidance (not to be confused with tax evasion) is on the up and up.  But, other shell companies and offshore accounts are simply just criminal.  From the looks of it, the “Panama Papers” could potentially expose what the world’s 1% are doing on the down low.

When You’re Getting The Popcorn Ready …

Redditors are fired up and ready to go, and the Twitterverse is already a buzz with people sounding off on the #panamapapers*Sips tea* 

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?

It’ll Happen When The Time Is Right …

Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice dropped its case against Apple.  It no longer needed the court’s help in compelling the company to help the U.S. government unlock an iPhone belonging to a terrorist in the San Bernardino attack. The government relied on technologists’ help and managed to unlock the iPhone. Now, the FBI is telling the law enforcement community that it’ll help them out in as soon as it’s cool under current law and policy.  But, it may not work out that way. Reports say the solution is likely to leak, and Apple will likely jump on the leak with a quickness to fix the flaw.   

MAP IT OUT…

Check out how the “Panama Papers” leak looks in comparison to some other major disclosures.

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THE STREETS ARE TALKIN’

Fashion do(s) … Massachusetts Institute of Technology aka MIT, small textile company Warwick Mills, and the U.S. Department of Defense want to give the entire textile industry an upgrade. The collabo is focused on figuring out how to get tiny semiconductors into fabrics for seeing, hearing, communicating, warming up, and cooling down, etc.  Think if your clothes were kind of like FitBits but better.

Ride-hailing companies like Uber and its Chinese competitor Didi Kuaidi are present in Latin America. But, now it’s a race to see who can dominate. All eyes are on Brazil.  It’s kind of a big deal being the 5th largest population in the world and all …  Speaking of Uber, the company is making moves on the African continent. It’s coming soon to Ghana, Uganda, and Tanzania in June 2016.

Facebook Live, the social network’s live video feature, may just be another annoying notification to us regular folks, but media companies and amateurs are loving it. Drawing large audiences FTW …

eHarmony is known for matchmaking for dating, and now it wants to help folks find the right careers with new site, Elevated Careers.

Virtual Skinny: Monday Motivation

3.28.2016

Good to Know:  “You’re not normal. You’re you. You’re awesome.” – @thekidpresident #mondaymotivation

Happy-Monday-awesome

THE SKINNY


When You’re Still Working Out the Kinks …

Over the weekend, a deadly bombing happened at a children’s park in Lahore, Pakistan,
taking the lives of 69 people and leaving about 300 injured. So, Facebook launched its “Safety Check” to let people “check in” as safe.  But, it didn’t work as expected. 

When Something Is A Major Fail … 

The “Safety Check” is intended to be avail for people close to the event, but that wasn’t the case on Sunday, March 27.  Instead, FB asked people all over the world (South Africa, Nepal, Canada, and U.S.): “Are you okay?”

When You Need to Apologize for Your Behavior …

Before it was too late, Facebook said “sorry.” The company copped to its mistake and blamed it on a bug that is “counter to the product’s intent.”  Safety Check’s been giving FB some issues since its debut, but those issues have been more along the lines of FB alleging playing faves on when and where to launch the features.

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?


What’s your motivation?

By now, you’ve probably heard a lil’ something, something about Apple’s rumble with the U.S. government over encryption. Now, the issue is going global.  With the recent terrorist attacks in Europe, France wants to act quickly. French lawmakers are seeking to make it easier for intelligence bodies to have more power in getting people’s personal data. A similar proposal allowing governments to “snoop” has cropped up in Britain. But, German and Dutch officials aren’t here for any of it and oppose “back doors” in encryption services. In the meantime, all eyes are on Britain since it’s a big market for American tech companies.

THE STREETS ARE TALKIN’


Ride-hailing app Uber is using its “Code on the Road” game to recruit engineering talent.  Fun Fact: Some people who have played already work in engineering.  Uber says it’s not playing the “targeting” game when it comes to who can play.  Rather, the company says it’s launching the game in cities where there are tons of tech jobs.  Hmmm … We’ll go along with that … for now. BTW, $10K is on the line for people who play and find bugs, which could threaten privacy and security.

Yahoo is putting its core Internet business (think search, email, etc.) up for sale. And, the latest word on the street is that Microsoft is chatting with Yahoo’s investors about a private equity deal.

You’re a lucky man, Ross Martin!  He’s the first customer to receive the first Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.

Virtual Skinny: (Almost) Festival Season …

3.10.2016

Good to Know: It’s almost festival season … Super cool tech and music festival South by Southwest kicks off this weekend. Even, U.S. President Barack Obama is making a cameo. #Jelly

SXSW

THE SKINNY


When You’re Trying to Get Your House in Order …

These days, we’re used to hearing about the Googles and the Facebooks of the world trying to bring Internet access to emerging and underrepresented areas.  But, this week, President Obama is keeping things closer to home.  The Administration announced new broadband plan for the U.S. called ConnectALL.

When Things Aren’t As They Seem …

Over the past 15 years, Internet access has been growing like gangbusters in America but is still very much out of reach for some households.  ConnectALL intends to bring broadband access to underserved communities.

When You Need to Move, NOW …

The Administration is wasting no time and plans to kick off an immediate effort – a new digital literacy pilot project. Calling all, Americorps volunteers to help people step up their computer skills at libraries, museums, and other community centers located in these areas.

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?


When You Haven’t Over-Stayed Your Welcome …

The Obama Administration is coming out strong this week with yet another announcement.  This time, it’s talking immigration policy for highly-skilled, foreign-born workers – always a hot topic in tech sector. Good news for foreign students studying science, technology, math, or engineering (STEM). After snatching up their diplomas, they’re now welcome to stay in the country for 3 years to get jobs and get their hands on those sometimes elusive H-1B visas aka work visas to stay state-side legally. But of course, not everyone’s happy on account of the counter-argument that this will take jobs away from Americans and all.

Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda …

Billionaire media mogul and former New York City Michael Bloomberg bowed out of getting into the U.S. presidential election as an independent. It’s unfortunate for some, including sharing economy companies like Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, AirBnB, etc.  The word is Bradley Tusk, who led Bloomberg’s NYC campaign, would’ve incorporated these services into Bloomberg’s would’ve-been campaign. Tusk figured since there’s no blue print to run as an independent, the sharing economy would’ve been the perfect match to get things going for field operations (e.g., hiring Ubers to get people to the polls).  Oh, what would’ve been!

Real Quick …

While we’re on the election, former HP CEO and former Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina has officially backed Senator Ted Cruz in his bid … In case you didn’t get that. That’s Fiorina telling Cruz: Hello? It’s me. I was wondering if after all the months, I could be your potential VP.

QUICK POLL – RUN THOSE NUMBERS …


About 47% of Americans surveyed are #TeamApple, and we’re not talking Apple Martin aka the daughter of actress Gwyneth Paltrow and rocker Chris Martin.  Most Americans in a recent Pew survey are siding with the smartphone manufacturer in its beef with the U.S. government over encryption.

pew

THE STREETS ARE TALKIN’


Not an astronaut? No worries, Amazon CEO and owner of space startup Blue Origins Jeff Bezos is working on test flights for regular folks beginning in 2017. The goal is to make things offisch by selling tix for short suborbital flights to us in 2018. Your move, Elon Tusk & SpaceX …

Anonymous messaging app Yik Yak is probably getting tired of always being in the middle of controversy. User names are now a thing for the app.

Facebook and Google want to share their data center designs with you via the Open Compute Project. It’s a win-win … People get to give these companies a hand in advancing Internet hardware and the companies get to keep their hardware costs low, low, low, low …

BTW, Facebook isn’t back down from competitor Snapchat. The OG social media platform (relatively speaking) just bought video filter app Msqrd.

It’s getting’ hot out there … You know what that means? Let the trip planning begin. Not sure where to go? Google it, duh! The search engine’s got a new feature called Destinations to help with your planning needs.

Instagram just pulled the kill-switch on “Being,” its app intended to give users an inside look into another user’s Insta for discovery purposes. Probably for the best on account of all its technical problems.

Virtual Skinny: Need A Moment

3.8.2016

Good to Know: Let’s take a moment of silence for Raymond Tomlinson, aka, the man who put the “@” in email addresses. He passed away at 74 over the weekend. #RIP 

at

THE SKINNY


When People Are No Longer Checkin’ For You …

For the first time in five years, more U.S. residents are moving out of Silicon Valley than those that are moving in

When You Need To Rephrase That …

To be clear, the talent pool is still growing thanks to highly educated foreign-born workers but homegrown talent is dipping out of the area in search of more affordable housing.

When You’ve Been Replaced …

People are migrating to smaller tech hubs like Seattle and Austin with each city bringing additional 17,000 and 720 workers, respectively.  These days, turns out things are slowing all the way down in Silicon Valley and San Francisco’s tech sector (e.g., companies laying off peeps and venture capital money drying up).

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?


Good News, Finally …

Lately, it’s been a tough road for DraftKings, FanDuel, and fantasy sport sites in general. After a slew of bad news, the industry finally got a breaky-break. Virginia (VA) just passed the “Fantasy Contests Act,” intended to allow those sites to be on the up and up in the state.  The law would require these sites to do things like go through two independent audits each year, pony up US $50K to operate in Virginia, make sure all players on the sites are 18+, and make sure employees aren’t participating in their public contents, etc. Good looks, VA.

We’re Not Gonna Take This …

Last week, a New York federal judge said ‘nice try’ to the U.S. government in its against Apple, Inc. The government brought the case against Apple because the company refused to give it access to one of the iPhones involved in one of its investigations. Now, the government is appealing on account of it thinks that Apple can bypass the phone’s passcode to give the government access with no problems.  Per usual, we’ll keep you posted on how this appeal turns out …  In other news, Mac computers are under attack by Ransomeware. And, the software works in the way you’d think the name implies. Hackers infect your computer with the software, encrypt your data, and then the hackers ask you to hand over digital $$$ to get your data back. #SAVAGE

THE STREETS ARE TALKIN’


Taking advantage of the situation? Who knows, but what we do know is … After Facebook failed to convince India’s government to accept its Free Basics program to bring Internet access to rural India, Google is now in talks with Indian telecoms to kick off its Project Loon.  The project shares similar goals with Free Basics except it plans to use balloons to bring the people affordable Internet access.

Style Code Live, Amazon’s first live online show, is available tonight and is … wait for it … free! It’s a daily fashion and beauty show if you’re into that type of thing. In more Amazon news, it’s putting together its very own virtual reality program and is on the look out for a software development manager to take the lead. And, its second physical bookstore is setting up shop in San Diego. #GoodReads

Ryan Lewis, one-half of the Macklemore and Ryan Lewis duo, is getting into the startup game with his company Disruptive Multimedia featuring a tool called Superphone to scoop up info on customer relationship management and direct sales. The plan is to use the tool to figure out how to monetize audiences. Looks like venture capitalist and investor Ben Horowitz is here for it.

Virtual Skinny: “FBI, Step Back!”

2.18.2016

Good to Know:  The Oscars are coming up. Pretty much everyone’s pulling for Leo DiCaprio to take home his first little gold man. Now, there’s a game to help him do just that. Leo’s on a rampage!

THE SKINNY


What We’re Not Gonna Do Is … 

Remember the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, CA a couple of months back? Well, the U.S. government wants Apple to “unlock” the attackers’ iPhones so they can get some info. But, Apple said “nah.”

When You’ve Gotta Pull Rank …

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the FBI, and Apple couldn’t settle their differences in closed door discussions so a federal district court judge stepped in at the DOJ’s request.  The FBI said they couldn’t access the information they needed off one of the attackers’ phones so Judge Sheri Pym issued an order earlier this week to get Apple to help out law enforcement.  #SetItOff

When You Use Fighting Words …

Apple CEO Tim Cook was not pleased with how the government took the issue public. So, he fired off an 1,100 word “customer letter.” In a nutshell, the letter says that what the U.S. is asking Apple to do is not right. Cook wants everyone to know that encryption is key to keeping users safe and secure. He admits that not even Apple employees can access people’s phone data. That’s how serious the company is about users’ security and privacy.  And, this letter is basically his attempt to “rally the troops” and get everyone talking about this important issue. #KnowledgeIsPower

When You’re Either With Me Or You’re Not … 

Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai, WhatsApp Founder Jan Koum , and your fave resident whistleblower Edward Snowden are rallying behind Apple and its stance against this whole thing.  But of course, everyone has their critics. U.S. Republican presidential hopeful doesn’t understand who [Apple] thinks they are and says the company is “disgraceful.”

When You’re Not Sure What’s Coming Next … 

Things are just getting started. Think tons of articles and opinion pieces, possible action from Congress in terms of legislation and maybe even a Supreme Court battle.

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?


Well, That’s Interesting … 

Since we’re on the topic of the U.S. government trying to get access to people’s info … Turns out the NSA isn’t hoarding troves of your information like most people think. A new declassified NSA report says that the information it collects from online companies is usually limited to email to, from, or about its target. Hmmmm…

THE STREETS ARE TALKIN’


Ride hailing app Uber is shelling out a billion dollars annually just to play in China.

Uganda voted to elect its next president this morning.  Citizens tried to access social media (Twitter & Facebook) but couldn’t. Turns out the country’s electoral commission requested to block the services. #UgandaDecides

In routine fashion, Yahoo let go of more of its employees this past Wednesday. And, it also shut down several of its digital magazines.

Sports network ESPN may be coming to a streaming service near you.

Google Express now delivers fresh food but only if you happen to live in select areas like Los Angeles or San Francisco. In more Google news, the time may soon come to ditch your Rosetta Stone, the number of language on Google Translate just went over the 100 mark.

Back to deliveries for a hot sec … Amazon is growing its on-demand delivery service by quietly hiring drivers to join the team.

Shop Snapchat soon, according to the company’s board member Joanna Coles.

Say hello to Twitter’s new Gif button (and we’ve learned that’s Gif with a “hard G’) … Also, Twitter just lost another user. Who? God, apparently.

The Virtual Skinny: Hi There…

11.19.2015

Good to Know:  Global investment bank Goldman Sachs is telling people to buy Apple’s stock. Why though? Goldman says Apple is no longer a hardware company but evolving into a services company. This means more growth = more $$$$. Enough said. 

THE SKINNY


When You Give a Helping Hand … 

Many people around the world are trying to do right by Syrian refugees.  Instead of funneling funds through traditional nonprofits like the Red Cross, people are choosing crowdfunding sites like Indiegogo and GoFundMe to make online donations.

WHEN YOU HAVE All The Feels … 

Norwegian web developer and activist Gissur Simonarson saw a pic on Twitter of a Syrian refugee dad holding his daughter while trying to sell pens on the streets of Beirut, Lebanon.  The image touched Simonarson so much that he wanted to do something help. So this past August, he tracked them down and launched a pretty successful Indiegogo campaign.

When Something’s not what you expected …  

The campaign raised about US $190,000, and the family ended up using the money to buy a bakery. But, Simonarson says issues came up that he didn’t anticipate.  First, between Indiegogo and the payment service PayPal, the family lost about US $20,000 of their donations to fees charged by these platforms. Sidenote: Indiegogo’s new charity platform eliminates these fees.  Second, so you’ve raised the money, now where do you keep it? Yes, a bank account would be logical, but there was no way for Simonarson and the family to set one up. Add security and safety to the list of concerns.

WHEN YOU’RE DOWN FOR THE CAUSE …

People pouring money into online platforms to help others is a good thing, right?  Well, yes and no.  There’s concern that increased online giving to individuals may create issues of equitable distribution since crowdfunding platforms may reflect biases of societies that use them. Also, opting for online platforms takes money away from nonprofit institutions capable of addressing crises at a macro-level. In other words, crowdfunding platforms may potentially hurt the larger cause. Perhaps, online platforms will put pressure on traditional organizations to reform their practices, some of which have not been great (e.g., mismanaging funds).

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON? 


Playing the Blame Game … 

In the wake of the Paris attacks, U.S. lawmakers and law enforcement launched a blame game targeted towards today’s technology.  First up? Encrypted devices. CIA director John Brennan said it’s hard to uncover info because of encryption.  Then, some lawmakers blamed the Internet.  One lawmaker thought it would be a great idea to shut down “ISIS websites and social networks.” Now, U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler is saying that it’s time for Congress to look into the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA).  Basically, CALEA would make companies build mandatory pathways or “backdoors” into their technology to decipher encrypted messages. May sound good in theory, but in reality, a backdoor in these technologies would be accessible by anyone and everyone savvy enough.  Privacy issues much?

On High Alert … 

The European Union (EU) is considering ways to cut off terrorist financing. Virtual currencies like Bitcoin and anonymous forms of payment are on the chopping block so to speak.  EU officials met last Friday and concluded that they’ll try to convince the European Commission to tighten up controls of “non-banking payment methods such as electronic/anonymous payments and virtual currencies and transfers of gold, precious metals, by pre-paid cards.”

When people aren’T Feelin’ yOU like they used to … 

Match Group, the parent company of dating apps like Tinder, is now officially ‘MTCH’ on NASDAQ.  The company’s IPO price came in at US $12/share, the low end of the US $12-$14 expected range.  Mobile payments company Square is officially public as of today. Its price came in at an underwhelming US $9/share, way below the expected $11-$13 range we originally thought. Ouch!  Attention companies worth at least a billion dollars or more (aka unicorns): These are probably more signs that investors are cooling off on tech IPOs.

It’s All About Mobile These Days … 

Google is changing up how mobile search works.  The company’s transitioning into the mobile age and will start indexing content from Android apps, even if these apps don’t have a corresponding website. Google is letting mobile users “stream” content from apps (Note:app downloads not necessary).  The company’s testing things out with a few partners including horoscope sites and the New York Subway.

THE STREETS ARE TALKIN’


Yesterday, we said that ride-hailing app and Uber rival, Lyft, is looking for $500 million. Now, we know why thanks to some leaked docs.  In the first half of the year, Lyft lost a ton of money and didn’t bring in much revenue.  To be more specific, we’re talking losing $127 million on $46.7 million in revenue.  We’re not financial experts, but …

Dutch file-sharing service WeTransfer is tapping into the online music streaming game alongside Spotify and Apple Music. For the company, it’s not about making money from music (ha!) but simply about getting on the map in the U.S.

Social network Facebook is improving its “Donate” button to help nonprofits raise funds. Organizations like Mercy Corp, National MS Society, and Worldwide Wildlife Fund are the first to get on board.  BTW, #IStillUseFacebook was trending on Twitter. #NoHate #NoShade, but we chuckled at some tweets, especially those poking fun at how FB is late to the party when it comes to breaking news.

The Virtual Skinny: Just Say Yes..

11.17.2015

Good to Know:  Where did I put my phone?! The U.S. government is working on implantable memory chips so we don’t forget things – ever. It’s tested the chip out on those who suffer from brain injuries. 

THE SKINNY


Setting Yourself Up … 

Online music service Pandora just swooped up Rdio, a bankrupt music subscription service, for $75 million. Rdio’s intellectual property rights and technology included.

When You Start Trash Talking …

Pandora says it plans to “offer an expanded Pandora listening experience by late 2016…” No one really knows what that’s going to look like, but people are reading between the lines.  Pandora fired shots at Spotify and YouTube’s ways of letting people listen to unlimited music for free by calling the practice “unsustainable.”  All signs point to Pandora looking to create an Apple Music-type subscription service to go along with its current radio offerings.

Mending Difficult Relationships…

Unlike Apple Music, Pandora has always had a complicated relationship with music labels and publishers.  It all comes down to dolla dolla bills. Labels and publishers think Pandora’s been short-changing them since it came on the scene.  But, Pandora CEO Brian McAndrews wants to fix the relationship for the sake of the company’s future. He says, “[e]stablishing productive and collaborative partnerships with music makers puts Pandora in the strongest possible position to deliver on our long‐term vision.”

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?


When You’ve Been Shut Down … 

Fantasy sports sites FanDuel and DraftKings are not getting their way. Soon after the New York Attorney General fired off letters to both companies asking them to stop operating in the state, the fantasy sports companies ran to a state court. They asked the court to tell the AG to get off their backs.  But, the court wasn’t having any of that and denied their request.  Verdict’s still out on whether their sites are illegal or not under U.S. federal law. The companies now have a November 25th court date.

When SomeThing Brings Up Old Drams … 

In the aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks, U.S. lawmakers are calling on Internet and tech companies to give law enforcement access to encrypted devices.  In the name of protecting consumers’ privacy, Internet and tech companies upped encryption on their devices after the Edward Snowden government surveillance leaks. U.S. lawmakers note that these days bad guys are turning to things like apps and video game systems (e.g.,Playstation 4) to communicate. Basically, lawmakers say that law enforcement needs access to encrypted devices because they can’t stop what they can’t see.

THE STREETS ARE TALKIN’


Earlier this year, e-commerce marketplace eBay and payments company PayPal went their separate ways. Now, billionaire investor Carl Icahn has chosen sides. He dumped his entire eBay stake for PayPal.

Need a ride to the game? Ride-hailing app Uber’s got you.  It’s trying out a new partnership with the National Football League’s Jacksonville Jaguars.  The company’s experimenting with offering rides along with discounted tickets to Jaguar games.

Daily deals company Groupon is shutting down more offices.  This time, it’s bowing out of Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Norway. 

It’s been a hot second since Twitter announced that it was replacing its “stars” with “hearts” for users looking to “like” tweets.  But, the “hearts” may not be working out.  It’s being reported that Twitter is tinkering with emojis instead.  BTW, Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year isn’t a word but the “crying laughing” emoji.

Local recommendation service Angie’s List said thanks but not thanks to IAC/InterActiveCorp’s offer.