Virtual Skinny: Friday Alert!

9.9.2016

Good to Know: The U.S. FAA just hit the red alert button on Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones. Don’t even think about turning it on during a flight on account of its explosive batteries.  Exhibit A.    

explosion

THE SKINNY


When You Make the Effort …

AirBnB is stepping its anti-discrimination policy game all the way up.  

When You’ve Been Exposed …

In Dec. 2015, Harvard University hosted its very own #ExposeParty when it dropped a bombshell of a report calling out some exclusionary behavior taking place on AirBnB.  The paper said that users with ‘African-American- sounding names’ had a hard time simply booking reservations. It’s the ole “we’re booked for those dates” excuse. #AirbnbWhileBlack

exposed
When You’ve Gotta Move Quick …

Can you say damage control? AirBnB brought in heavy-hitters like former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and former director of American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington legislative office Laura W. Murphy to give their two cents on what it can do to reduce discrimination on its platform.

When You Want to Hear Solutions …

Murphy put together the 32-page report with some practical fixes. Starting Nov. 1, users must agree to treat others on the platform fairly and sans bias. Other things will happen like ‘instant booking’ so people can make reservations without first getting approval from the host. And, AirBnB plans to focus less on users’ photos and more on objective information on people’s profiles.

When You’ll Wait and See…

Verdict is still out on whether these changes will actually work. Mixed reviews from advocacy groups and even from founders of competing startups targeting people of color. But, it all raises a bigger question of Internet companies’ role in changing social attitudes and perceptions.

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?


Out with the Old, In with the New …

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission wants to make your cable TV watching a little easier. This week, the agency put out its final proposal on those expensive cable boxes. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler doesn’t want your cable provider (think: Comcast) to force you to rent pricey cable boxes. He’d much rather the provider offer an app for people to stream content on their device of choice (Apple TV, Roku, etc.). Wheeler says the change would be good innovation. The agency is set to vote on the proposal later this month (Sept. 29). Who knows? The cable industry may finally catch up to 2016. #SorryNotSorry

Trying to Stop A Moving Train …

Fun Fact: For many years, the U.S. oversaw the basic operations of the Internet. But like most good things, that is coming to an end. The U.S. plans to transition its oversight duties to ICANN. Formally, known as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. The nonprofit group deals with the Internet’s daily operations. The transition is supposed to go down October 1st, but some Republicans aren’t having it. Four top Republicans just sent a letter to the Obama Administration basically saying that the switch won’t be going down on their watch. Reason for the opposition? They don’t want the U.S. to “giv[e] up control” of the Interwebs. The Internet and broader tech community says that’s not the case. The community sees it as a positive for the Internet’s global support. Republicans probably don’t have the votes to stop the transition, but it’ll at least make for good political drama heading into election season this fall.

THE STREETS ARE TALKIN’


The 90s comeback game is so strong. Super Mario is coming to the iPhone. mario

Alphabet (formerly known as Google) is teaming up with Chipotle to deliver burritos via drone. Virginia Tech will be the first test-site because it’s FAA approved. 

You can now hail a ride from Lyft or Gett directly from Google Maps

Norway is calling out Facebook for removing its Prime Minister’s post of the Pulitzer-prize winning ‘napalm girl’ photo during the Vietnam war.

Snapchat just hired Morgan Stanley to take out a new line of credit. The Information is reporting that the company’s gearing up for an IPO. Maybe, maybe not … 

MAKING MOVES


While we’re on Snapchat, the company just hired former White House strategic communications advisor Rachel Racusen. Racusen is Snapchat’s new Director of Communications . 

WOD (WORD OF THE DAY)


IPO: Known as ‘initial public offering.’  The first time when a private company releases stock to the public. Reasons for an IPO vary (e.g., to raise money to grow the company more or to allow the company’s owners and employees to make money off of their company stock).

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.

Screen Shot 2016-09-07 at 9.51.37 AMScreen Shot 2016-09-07 at 9.53.58 AM

 

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: 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.

landscape-1468872336-taylor-swift-excluded-narrative

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?  

frank-ocean-blond-compressed-0933daea-f052-40e5-85a4-35e07dac73df

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: Cheers!

6.3.2016

Good to Know: Cheers to the weekend! If you’re a basketball fan, you’re going to want to know this. The NBA just rolled out a chatbot via Facebook Messenger to keep you current on what’s going on during this year’s finals match up between Lebron and Steph. 

friday

THE SKINNY


When You’re The New Target … 

First, Pandora. Then Spotify. Now YouTube.

When You’re Not In The Money…

The music industry has zeroed in on YouTube because even though everyone and their moms constantly stream music videos on the platform, artists aren’t seeing those streams translating into dolla dolla bills. In other words, they’re seeing less direct income from YouTube in comparison to the niche vinyl records market.

When You’re Doing The Best You Can … 

YouTube says it’s doing what it needs to do to pay artists. In the past decade, the platform has shelled out about US $3 billion to artists across the globe. And, the platform has rolled out new services and features to get people paid (i.e., subscription service YouTube Red and Content ID). And, YouTube is renegotiating music licenses contracts with record labels.

When It’s Just Not Enough … 

The music industry wants more to be done so it’s calling on the United States Congress to change the current copyright law, namely the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The DMCA basically protects YouTube and other platforms that host third-party content if they follow certain requirements. Click here to learn more about the DMCA. The music industry says that the current DMCA is no bueno because it allows the YouTubes of the world to host illegal content. Even if the platforms take down unauthorized works, it’ll just pop up again when another user posts it to the site. The industry is pulling out all the stops and got big name artists like Katy Perry, Pharrell Williams, and Billy Joel to sign letters asking for changes to the law.

When You Can’t Take It Too Far … 

The DMCA applies to more sites than just the YouTubes of the world. We’re talking blogs, fan sites, etc. So, everyone’s gotta be careful with what they ask for when it comes to changing the law. Also, you should know that the problem isn’t just in the U.S. The European Union is in the middle of changing their copyright laws, and EU reps want YouTube to pay artists more money. Oy!

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?


Getting Ready to Rumble Over the Valley … 

This week, the chair of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, John Podesta, made it clear that Hillary is working hard to win over the tech community. While gaining the tech community’s support is a work in progress, Podesta says the current list of Hillary’s tech supporters is impressive. He says we’ll find out whose on the list soon enough.  Meanwhile, Intel’s CEO Brian Krzanich just backed out of hosting a fundraiser for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Trump will be hosting a rally in San Jose, CA tonight.

THE STREETS ARE TALKIN’


Uber and Lyft want to bring your Walmart groceries right to your door.  They’re teaming up with the retailer for a grocery delivery service. The partnership is in test mode, and the cities of Denver and Phoenix are up first.

Internet platforms are all about giving users control. Facebook’s taking that mission to heart with the latest experiment with its Safety Check feature. Instead of letting its staff launch the feature during times of crises, FB wants to give users control to let their friends and fam know that they are A-OK.

More people are using Snapchat on a daily basis than Twitter. That’s Snapchat’s 150 million active users in comparison to Twitter’s less than 140 million.

Twitter may be planning a Golden State Warriors-style comeback.  Word on the street is that microblogging site has its eyes on Yahoo. Twitter’s instant news platform plus Yahoo’s large audience could be the perfect match to get Twitter back in the social media game.  Discussions are still early.

Speaking of perfect matches, Tinder is rolling out its transgender-friendly feature next month. CEO Sean Rad said “[t]here’s a transgender community on Tinder, and we haven’t done enough to give them a good experience.”

Virtual Skinny: Extra, Extra…Read All About It

5.10.2016

Good to Know:  Is Apple being a little extra? Now may be a good time to back your media all the way up. Otherwise, Apple can and will delete files from your internal hard drive. The files are downloaded to Apple’s database and served back to you when you want to take a listen. It’s all in the iTunes Terms of Use.

paul allen

THE SKINNY


When Shots Have Been Fired …

Gizmodo just went after the Facebook News curating process. Last week, Gizmodo sounded off on Facebook’s trending news team. Think young journalists groomed by Ivy League schools or private East coast universities.

When A Week Makes A Difference …

This week, Gizmodo went all the way in on Facebook News.  The news outlet chatted with a former member of the social media’s trending news team, and the person described the curating process in one word –  bias.  The anonymous source, who happens to be conservative, piped up and said that most team members lean left on the political spectrum. So naturally, conservative news stories were hard to come by on Facebook news.

When It Doesn’t End There …

The source had things to say about management too.  Facebook says its trending topics are based on algorithms that pick up on what people care about on the platform. The source says not so much. As FB tries to compete with Twitter, the source says management would often tell the team to “inject” news stories that weren’t trending at all on FB but were covered by major news publications like CNN, New York Times, BBC, etc (e.g., Black Lives Matter, disappearance of Malaysian Airline MH 370, Charlie Hebdo attacks, etc.) . Oh, and if news about FB popped up, the person claims they were told to keep it moving unless they got approval to include it.

When You’ve Gotta Respond …

FB is denying everything. It put out a statement saying there are rules in place “to ensure consistency and neutrality” with its Trending Topics section.   A spokesperson said it also doesn’t suppress political viewpoints. Now, the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee that oversees media and consumer issues is like “Facebook, what’s good?” It’s fired off a letter to FB about its practices.

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?


Reclaiming “Basic…”

If you’re known to go off in the comments section on Reddit, you may want to reconsider. Researchers at the University of Southern California say that the longer you comment, the more basic you sound. Apparently any more than an hour, and you run the risk of your posts being “shorter” and “less sophisticated.”  They study is specific to Reddit so no word yet on how this goes on Facebook or Twitter.

QUICK POLL – BY THE NUMBERS


Take our poll! Let us know what you think!

THE STREETS ARE TALKIN’


Ripple.co is a new app that says it’s for local journalists and storytellers.

Content publishers want a piece of that Snapchat action.  They’re allegedly ponying up some “Benjamins” to get a spot on the app’s Discover feature. Snapchat’s being mum on this.

Uber and Lyft said “nah nah nah, nah nah nah, hey hey hey, goodbye” to Austin, Texas.  Residents voted against Proposition 1, which was intended to do dial back on some regulatory protections the city put in place last December (2015). Turns out Austin residents do want fingerprint-based background checks for Uber and Lyft drivers. Residents also weren’t feeling the $8.6 million marketing campaign the companies pushed to do away with the regulations. Uber and Lyft say they already use legit background check services and fingerprints aren’t reliable. So for now, they’re done with Austin.

If you build it, they will come. Amazon’s created a new service called Video Direct to go head-to-head with YouTube. Amazon wants content creators to upload their works for its Amazon Prime audience.

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

Prince_at_Coachella

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!

phone

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: Friday!

3.25.2016

Good to Know: Happy Friday! Focusing on others isn’t just the key to leading a happier life. It also helps when trying to get a job, allegedly

THE SKINNY


When You Have Nothing But Good Intentions …

Microsoft thought it was doing a good thing when it introduced “Tay,” an AI chatbot, to the world earlier this week.  The company built Tay to mimic stereotypical millennials’ “caszhh” speak aka casual speak by learning from 18-24 year olds Twitter and messaging apps Kik and GroupMe.

But, Then Things Went Left VERY Quickly …

Things started innocently enough with Tay responding with playful comments. But in just half a day, Tay transformed into your racist, homophobic, xenophobic, politically incorrect relative that you are forced to see at least once a year. Tay was spewing things like: “WE’RE GOING TO BUILD A WALL. AND MEXICO IS GOING TO PAY FOR IT.”  We’ve heard that somewhere before …

When It’s Not Really All Jokes …

People could write this off as a joke. But can’t help but wonder, is this really a reflection our society? And, how much filtering safeguards are needed to avoid these offensive comments with the next AI chatbot? Tay went to bed (i.e., Microsoft shut it down” around midnight last night.

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?


When You’re Not Sure How To Feel …

Online streaming service Netflix took to its blog and dropped a major truth bomb on us. The company’s admitted that it’s been decreasing the quality of videos for users watching via telecom providers AT&T and Verizon Communications wireless networks for five years. Turns out this is what a telecom company gets for non-consumer friendly policies. Meanwhile, if you’re in the U.S. and can’t find anything to watch on your account. You’re not alone.  AllFlick’s new report says Netflix’s catalog has shrunk by about 32% in the last two years. 

QUICK POLL – RUN THOSE NUMBERS …


If you need to connect with anyone between the ages of 13 and 24, e-mail is not the way. They’re 3.5x more likely to use messaging apps compared to 45+ year olds.

older-mobile-users-traditional-services

THE STREETS ARE TALKIN’


Apple’s  first TV series will be an unscripted show that’s centered on something it knows well – apps. Musician will.i.am and TV producers Ben Silverman (former executive producer of The Office) and Howard Owens are in.

Snapchat reportedly dropped $100 mill Bitstrips, the company responsible for the Bitmoji app.

Google just made its Nik Collection, a collection of desktop plug-in, free. It would usually run you about US $149. #GoodDeal

Virtual Skinny: Super Tuesday!

3.1.2016

Good to Know: Happy Super Tuesday! All eyes are on U.S. citizens residing in 12 states today. They are headed to the polls to vote on who could potentially be the presidential nominees for both the Republicans and the Democrats. While Democratic candidates Secretary Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders duke it out, Donald Trump is rumored to take the day on the Republican side. Btw, Trump is already winning on Twitter. 

super tuesday

THE SKINNY

When You Gotta Take the “L” …

Apple – 1; U.S. Government – 0 … In the midst of all the drams between Apple and the U.S. government over the San Bernardino attacks (remember?), the government wants Apple to hand over iPhone info related to a drug case in NY. The federal magistrate judge in the case said the government’s argument is no bueno.

Why?

If you want to get into specifics, the government is betting on a very old law (we’re talking written in 1789 old) called the All Writs Act, which the government says allows it to require things not already covered by existing law.  The judge wasn’t buying it and basically told the government to take it down several notches. In other words, the government doesn’t have that much power.

Kind of a Big Deal …

Even though the drug case has nothing to do with San Bernardino and what the judge said is limited to that particular situation, it still raises questions about what this could mean for the mega-blowout over San Bernardino. Hmmm….

Speaking of …

Since we’re on San Bernardino, here’s a quick update. Late last week, Apple met its court deadline and submitted its docs to dismiss the government’s case. This week, companies like Google, Facebook, and even Microsoft are stepping up to the plate to file their own court doc aka amicus brief aka a brief filed by someone with “skin the game” to support Apple’s position.  In the meantime, Apple’s top lawyer Bruce Sewell is at on U.S. Capitol Hill today to tell the nation’s lawmakers that they respect the victims and their families and have zero tolerance for terrorists. But, the government has put it in an impossible position when it comes to protecting iPhone users. Sewell and the company want Congress to discuss this issue before any decisions are made.

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?

Devil’s in the Details …

Weeks ago, the U.S. and European Union agreed on how companies should protect Europeans’ info that U.S. companies shuttle back and forth across borders. Now, they’ve released the official text of the new framework called the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield. Let’s just say that this framework ups the ante in what companies need to do when it comes to their privacy policies and sharing people’s info with third parties. If you happen to be a European resident that uses the Internet, turns out you’ve got more power to bring legal action against U.S. companies if you feel it’s necessary to do so.

THE STREETS ARE TALKIN’

Get it directly from the source. Google’s now selling cardboard virtual reality viewers on its online sore. US $15 for a single and US $25 for a double. No need to make that McDonald’s run for their limited edition of ‘Happy Googles.’

Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel told his investors that the app’s users are watching about 8 billion videos a day (same as Facebook!). But, the “Damn Daniel” vid is no longer one of them.   A group hacked into the creator’s Twitter account and hit the delete button on the viral vid. All we can say to that is … #Damn

Israeli startup Skyfi is trying to beat Facebook and Google to the punch on offering global web access. The company’s working on a “self-correcting antenna” to transform small satellites into transmitters around the globe.

When it comes to startups, we don’t hear much coming out of the Middle East. But, online e-commerce company Souq is changing that by raising major moo-lah, about $275 million and counting in funds.

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.