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? 

THE SKINNY


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.

THE SKINNY


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: 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

party

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.

chelsea

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: 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! 

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 10.08.51 AM

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: Inter-Webs…

8.23.2016

Good to Know: Time to celebrate … The Inter-Webs turn 25 years old today! Still waiting on that quarter-life crisis. 

happy bday

THE SKINNY


When You’ve Turned Over a New Leaf (Sort of) …

If you’ve been following U.S. politics, then you’ve probably noticed that Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump is trying to do better. He’s trying to stay on script and talk more policy. Top of the list? Immigration

When You Still Want to Build That Wall …

Trump unveiled his immigration plan last week, and it went further than just building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. He talked a lot about “extreme vetting” for those wanting to immigrate to the U.S. 

When You’re Not Sure What This Means …

‘Many people’ are wondering (see what we did there?) what this meant for H-1B work visas, which is a big deal in the tech world. It’s unclear, but Trump has said in the past that he would want to reform the H-1B program to stop ‘rampant abuse.’ He’s even called out Disney as a major culprit.

When You’re Confused… 

Meanwhile, Silicon Valley and the tech world are still not feeling Trump even with his new approach. With the exception of entrepreneur Peter Thiel, even Silicon Valley Republicans are staying clear of the Donald. They’re either backing down-ticket candidates. throwing their money at Hillz, or sitting the election out all together. #InterestingTimes 

confused

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?


Nope, Not On My Watch …

Google, Facebook, and Twitter are not pleased with a proposal from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The agency thought it would be a good idea to ask foreign U.S. visitors arriving on visa waivers to voluntarily hand over their social media account info. It’s all in the name of id-ing potential terrorists. Internet companies said ‘no way Jose.’ The proposal would spell major trouble for social media and free speech generally in the U.S.of A. Not to mention, it would send the wrong message to other countries that they should do the same. #SorryNotSorry

THE STREETS ARE TALKIN’


What to do after retirement? Former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant retired from the NBA this year. Now, he’s getting into investments. Bryant and his partner Jeff Stibel announced that they’ve launched a US $100 million venture capital fund called Bryant Stibel. They’re looking to invest in tech, media, and data companies. Not really a surprise, Bryant and Stibel have been lowkey investing in companies since 2013. 

Tired of your Spotify or Pandora? Amazon’s stepping into music streaming service ring. The service is still in the works, but rumor has it that it’ll cost around US $5/ month. Oh and there’s a catch, the service will only work with Echo hardware aka ‘Alexa.’ Now that Alec Baldwin/Missy Elliott commercial is starting to make sense. #PepRally 

Ride-hailing service Lyft wanted out of the biz. It tried to sell to the likes of Uber and for US $9 billion. But, Uber said “too rich for my blood” … It was willing to do $2B and not a penny more. It wasn’t just a money issue … CEO Travis Kalanick didn’t think it’d be a good idea on account of the Feds (i.e., antitrust issues). 

While we’re on Uber, ICYMI, it’ll start letting real people into its self-driving cars. To be specific, it’ll start by testing out 100 Volvos in Pittsburgh, PA. But don’t worry, there’ll be a human at the wheel in case things start to go left

Daydream is no longer falling asleep beneath the flowers. It’s the name of Google’s new service for virtual reality films and programs. The company’s throwing millions of dollars at the service and at Inter-web stars for content. 

MAKIN’ MOVES


Amazon Web Services former marketing vet Adam Selipsky is going to be the top guy at software company Tableau.

Dropbox CFO Vanessa Wittman is walking away from her post due to health reasons. She’ll be replaced by financial deputy Ajay Vashee in September. 

Virtual Skinny: Run That Back …

4.15.2016

Good to Know:  Reminder, if you haven’t gotten your U.S. taxes done, you’ve got until Apr. 18th.tax, Run

THE SKINNY

When You Swear It’s Déjà Vu …

Now that the Apple v. U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) court battle has died down, Microsoft’s got next.

When You’re Like Hold Up! Run That Back …

The company wants to give you a heads up when the U.S. government is getting all up in your online biz. But, the government allegedly won’t let Microsoft put you on notice so the company’s fired shots with the lawsuit it filed earlier this week. 

When You Need The Details …

Microsoft’s argument comes down to the information you store in the “cloud.” For years, tech companies and privacy advocates have been calling out the U.S. government for using an old-school law (Electronic Communications Privacy Act aka ECPA) to gain access to people’s personal information stored in the cloud. They want the law changed.

When You’re Like, But How?

Well, look at it this way. If the government wanted access to information you’re keeping in your house or mailbox, it would need a search warrant under the 4th Amendment.  But, when it comes to your online stuff, less is required of the government to gain access.

When Things Are Backwards …

Even though it makes a ton of sense to change the law, not much has happened (sigh, politics).   The latest development is that the U.S. House Judiciary Committee approved its version of an amended bill to keep up with the times.  #SmallVictories

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?

Try Take Over The World …

Mark Zuckerberg is legit on ‘Pinky and the Brain’ status. This week, Facebook put on F8, its annual developer conference. Per usual, FB’s got a lot on its “to do” list.  The Zuck kicked things off by not missing a chance to throw shade at Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Then, he kept the zingers coming (in a good way) by unveiling his company’s 10-year plan.  Basically, it comes down to chat bots, virtual reality, and sponsored messages (in case you were wondering why you may have gotten a FB message from Lyft).  Looks like FB Messenger is going to be kind of a big deal. We’re talking potentially being able to use Messenger to interact directly with businesses to meet our needs (i.e., pizza).

Baby Steps …

While Facebook’s on that world domination tip, Google’s taking a local approach. According to reports, Google – now known as Alphabet – is using one of its subsidiaries called Sidewalk Labs to build out a “digital district.” The company’s allegedly got big name consultants and urbanists on its team to “create an area in the U.S. that serves as a testbed for new technologies from super fast Internet to autonomous cars.”

QUICK POLL – RUN THOSE NUMBERS …


In honor of Equal Pay Day this past Wednesday (Apr. 13), Facebook and Microsoft said they’re progressive because they basically pay men and women equally for the same job (for every $1 a man makes, a woman makes 99.8 cents).  Not quite equal pay, and the gender pay gap is still a major problem.

THE STREETS ARE TALKIN’

Twitter has its work cut out for it.  It’s been on a take-down rampage of tweets and accounts related to terrorism. But, a good thing has turned into a never ending battle. As soon as Twitter takes a tweet or account down, similar ones pop right back up. Enemy #1 is Abu al-Walid. He’s now on his 464th Twitter account. Oy …

While we’re on Twitter, can we talk about the Jack Dorsey- Azealia Banks connection? Let’s get into it. In 2015, Banks sent out tweets to promote Square Cash, the Venmo-like feature of Dorsey’s other company Square. Banks said she only did it because Dorsey promised to promote her mixed tape in return. He didn’t. She claims that he instead sent her his hair samples to “make him an amulet for protection.” Ok so, two things: (1) What TF is really going on? And (2) Watch your back, Jack. Yikes!

“Please silence your phones.” We’ve all heard that gentle reminder to not be that annoying person on their phones in the middle of a movie. Turns out AMC Theaters is admitting defeat. The CEO gets that millennials can’t part with their phones for too long so they want to make it acceptable for people to text and watch at their theaters. #ThingsThatMakeYouGoHmmm …

Amazon’s trying to get knee-deep in the fashion world so it’s looking to buy up startups like Everlane, Le Tote, Rent The Runway, ThirdLove and PreeLine.

Old things are becoming new again.  While the 90s are coming back with a vengeance, so are vinyl records. Startup ReplyYes wants to help you get your hands on the right vinyl records with its daily text recommendations.

Drone racing. Coming to ESPN in August 2016.

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.