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    There are so many bad things about losing a parent. The emotional toll. The gut-wrenching yard sale of all their old things, only to then find that you (“Sorry, sir, could you please put that down?!) can’t actually part with their tzotchkes. And then there is the daunting prospect of figuring out financially complex accounts while you are–let’s face it–not your most together self.

    The Silent Generation, known for its assiduous work ethic, is passing on, leaving their Gen X children, defined as those born between the mid 1960s and 1980, who made a name for themselves rejecting corporations and consumerism, with their hard-earned cash and homes. Gen X, notoriously, hasn’t saved enough for retirement and has expansive debt, but they are entering their prime earning years and now, potentially, inheriting their parents’ wealth.

    David Snider, the former CFO of Compass, a real estate platform now valued at $4.4 billion, has an answer. He’s just raised $4 million in seed funding to launch Harness Wealth, a marketplace that connects people with financial advisors, estate lawyers, and tax professionals. Rather than fumbling around, still grieving, looking for word of mouth suggestions for what to do, Harness Wealth aims to hold your hand.

    Individuals with between $250,000 and $10 million will be able to search through service providers on an à la carte basis or they can go through the site’s “impact plan” interactive questionnaire. The latter will offer recommendations matched to the prospective client’s  needs.

    Harness Wealth’s dashboard lets users monitor their financial activity–from retirement savings to investment accounts–across providers. The site launches today and those interested can put their name on a wait list for later access.

    Snider wanted to bring wealth management into the digital age, while retaining the benefits of human advisors. He struck up relationships with a variety of small firms who were seeking new clients. In exchange for a minority percentage of the adviser’s standard fee for clients, Harness not only brings them new clients, but provides the technology for managing them. It’s this latter component that Snider believes will keep wealth management firms on Harness.

    “Before we started Harness Wealth, we completed significant research on the biggest areas of concern and desired investment for advisers,” he says. Acquiring new clients was at the top of the list, but secondarily, these firms were looking to modernize and provide some of the digital conveniences that competitor startups were now using.  His company gives them both, he says.

    “Additionally, we are working with some of the most elite advisers in these verticals and don’t expect them to violate their agreements for modest short-term gain when we are adding long-term value to their practices,” he adds.

    While digitally savvy millennials have been the center focus for many wealth management firms, a Deloitte report on the future of wealth notes that Gen X is undervalued piece of the market. “In fact, firms that haven’t yet woken up to Generation X’s potential may be too late to the party. As of 2015, about 37% of Gen Xers report having more than $100,000 in investable assets.” They also comprise the bulk of residential property investors.

    For sure, wealth transfers from one generation to the next are a preoccupation of big firms like Morgan Stanley and UBS, which have taken great pains to be the-place-to-be for high-net-worth individuals. Harness Wealth is betting that some of those heirs might choose to take their parents money to them and their partner firms.


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    The ACLU is sounding the alarm about a patent application from Amazon that would pair a face surveillance program with a doorbell camera. The patent application, which was made public recently, describes a product that would let police or homeowners match the faces of people walking by the doorbell camera with a photo database of persons they deem “suspicious.” If a match occurs, the suspicious person’s face can be automatically sent to law enforcement.

    Earlier this year, Amazon bought the smart-doorbell company Ring.

    The surveillance system described in the patent is, well, kind of unsettling, and so naturally the ACLU is monitoring it as closely, as it will be monitoring our front porches. In a blog post, ACLU lawyer Jacob Snow, a former patent litigator who now works in the ACLU’s Technology & Civil Liberties department, lays out the case against this would-be doorbell watchdog:

    “Amazon is dreaming of a dangerous future, with its technology at the center of a massive decentralized surveillance network, running real-time facial recognition on members of the public using cameras installed in people’s doorbells.”

    If that’s enough to get you Googling “how to make tin foil hats,” Snow also notes that the patent application doesn’t limit the new tech’s use to facial recognition, but also includes “an arsenal of other biometrics, including fingerprints, skin-texture analysis, DNA, palm-vein analysis, hand geometry, iris recognition, odor/scent recognition, and even behavioral characteristics, like typing rhythm, gait, and voice recognition.”

    That should be enough to make privacy-conscious members of Congress and civil liberties advocates more than a little nervous.

    An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment. In the past, the company has emphasized that a patent application doesn’t necessarily mean a product is forthcoming and has criticized “patent speculation” by the media.


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    “I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy living or get busy dying.”

    Andy Dufresne said those immortal words in Shawshank Redemption, mostly because he knew they’d sound totally badass when we found out he was tunneling out of prison with a rock hammer at the time. It’s pretty good advice! Unfortunately, very few TV shows these days know when it’s time for Option B.

    The old goal of a TV show was simple: Get on air by any means necessary, then cling to that precious air like it’s hoisting the parachute protecting you from certain doom. More often than not, your show was merely the crap that came on in between commercials—not the other way around—and you just hoped to continue serving it until viewers refused service. Fortunately, viewers weren’t fickle! In the monoculture era, we would all rally around the same few Good Shows and be grateful for them because they were all we had.

    That old model, unlike, say, The Walking Dead, now in its ninth season, has died.

    So much has been said about Peak TV that it feels like we’re now in Post-Peak TV, where every show is amazing and nobody cares all that much. I have become immune to peer pressure. There are so many series like Better Call Saul and The Americans that look amazing but I may never get around to watching–because there are so many other great shows I’m watching. Finding a great TV series now is easy. Finding a great TV series to stick with is much harder because it no longer feels like a big decision to break up with a show after a weak episode or two.

    In this brave new era of abundance, the goal of any TV show worth its salt should be to leave before anyone wants you gone, forever beloved for not outstaying your welcome. It’s time for creators to start planning their exit strategies as soon as they get going, so they can go out on top.

    For instance, there’s The Good Place. I love The Good Place more than I love one of my two cats. Mike Schur’s brilliantly executed season finale twists provided the rare sensation of me wanting to plow through the show again to see what I’d missed. However, when the news came out the other day that The Good Place had been renewed for a fourth season, my first thought was, “Please be the final season.” On the surface, it sounds like a masochistic request. In reality, I just enjoy the show so much that I never want to see it go downhill. If The Good Place continues operating at its current level for a fourth season and wraps up with a satisfying, mind-bending conclusion, it would enter the pantheon—television’s own Good Place, as it were. If it got canceled in its sixth season and jammed in a subpar ending, it would become a subpar show.

    Then there’s Ozark. It started on Netflix last year with a hyper-speed pace and the highest stakes imaginable. In the first episode, antihero Jason Bateman realizes he cannot kill himself for life insurance money because the drug dealers who want him dead will just kill his family anyway. Oh, dear! The entire season flies by in what feels like one long movie, and season two mostly pulls off the same trick, more a straight-up sequel than a fresh new chapter in these characters’ lives. There is no way any show could sustain this pace and these stakes forever, though, without sliding into cartoony territory. Why even try? The sooner the show’s producers find an elegant way to end the series, the less chance it has of making recovered addicts of its viewers.

    Lost was one of the first shows to realize it had lost its way. After the show’s meandering fourth season, its producers announced they were mapping out a way to close up shop in two more years. Famously, they did not stick the landing. As a result, it’s harder today to recommend the series to friends who haven’t seen it and are curious. “Watch the first two seasons,” you might say. But why? Why watch part of a show you know you won’t want to finish? The most alluring part of a new show that slaps from the very beginning is the possibility that it will end up becoming one of your favorites. Any show that loses its mojo but keeps on cruising until it sputters out simply does not qualify.

    Instead of the goal of perpetuity, creators should plan on a finite run. Make your mark, make it strong, end well, and move on.

    Why is Biggie Smalls better than Tupac? Because Biggie left behind two classic albums, a bunch of standout guest spots, and that’s it, while the shine on Tupac’s classics is permanently dimmed by the sheer volume of his output (pre- and posthumous), thickly marbled with so-so material. In the age of Too Much, less is infinitely more. Biggie and Tupac are both actual icons, but only one’s back catalog is kind of a slog.

    “Let’s just do it and be legends,” party planner Billy McFarland once reportedly said about putting together Fyre Fest. He had the right spirit: Everyone wants to be remembered as a legend, to write their name on the ground in gasoline and drop a match. The only problem for him was that he didn’t do any of the requisite long-range planning. Now he’s facing six years in jail for defrauding investors, and his best hope of an exit strategy is the Andy Dufresne route.

    And if that sounds like a half-assed end to this rant it’s BECAUSE I DIDN’T PLAN IT FROM THE VERY BEGINNING.


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    If you pull up the Lyft app in Washington, D.C., you’ll see details about the nearest bus or train or where to pick up a scooter. Soon, you’ll also see the closest bikeshare station. Summoning a car to pick you up–the original purpose of the app–is only one option.

    “We have this deeply ingrained car culture in the U.S. that we have to challenge in multiple ways to really get at the heart of it,” says Caroline Samponaro, who leads bike, scooter, and pedestrian policy at Lyft.

    [Photo: Lyft]

    Until recently, Samponaro worked at Transportation Alternatives, a New York City-based nonprofit, fighting for the city’s first protected bike lanes, advocating for the creation of Citi Bike, and helping transform Queens Boulevard, a notoriously dangerous road for cyclists. When she first met John Zimmer, one of Lyft’s founders, she’d never used the company’s ride-hailing service herself. She was anti-car. But as Zimmer talked about his plans to acquire Motivate–the company that manages major bike-share networks across the country, including Citi Bike–she was struck by the alignment of their visions for the future of urban transportation.

    [Photo: Lyft]

    Writing in 2016, Zimmer argued that within a decade, private car ownership would “all but end” in major cities in the U.S., as autonomous fleets of ride-hailing vehicles make it cheaper and easier to avoid driving yourself. Without cars sitting idle most of the day, space devoted to parking could be used for parks or wider sidewalks or bike lanes. Cities could transform.

    Ride-hailing, of course, hasn’t delivered on that promise yet. One report earlier this year suggests that Lyft and Uber are creating more traffic, not taking cars off the road. Around 60% of trips using the service, the report says, would have otherwise been made on foot, or a bike, or public transportation. Other reports found a similar trend. As ride-hailing has grown in popularity, public transit ridership has dropped–and transit systems that were already underfunded are struggling more. But the services don’t need to be inherently at odds: For those who don’t use the bus or subway because the stops are a little too far away, getting a ride to a station might be enough to decide not to drive the entire way. Another study this year found that more than a third of public transit users it surveyed were combining ride-hailing with public transit.

    [Photo: Lyft]

    Lyft’s new integration of public transit in its app, which it is slowly rolling out city by city, doesn’t have any direct financial benefit for the company (aside from deflecting criticism about the effects of Lyft on traffic and transit). But it sees it as a key part of its vision of moving people away from driving in their own cars. Bikes and scooters are another piece of the vision. The company acquired Motivate, the bike-share network, in July. It rolled out its first shared scooters in September.

    “If 40% of car trips in the U.S. are less than two miles, and people are making many short trips in cities every day, there is a tremendous potential for us to make those trips on bikes and on scooters, and for those trips to be connections to public transit,” Samponaro says. “That’s what Lyft is working hard right now to build out and to make happen.”

    The company also wants to help cities make streets safe enough that people feel comfortable walking or biking or riding a scooter. In some cases, that means solving problems that it created itself. On Valencia Street in San Francisco, where there’s a heavily used bike lane, the company now uses geofencing–in a program it calls Lyft Spot–to keep drivers off the street and out of the bike lane. Customers who need a ride can go to pickup zones on cross streets nearby.

    “The city has had a long-standing plan to build a protected lane,” says Samponaro. “But in the meantime, we worked with the city to pilot Lyft Spot and we pushed our drivers to designate pickup and drop-off locations off of Valencia to make sure that we were keeping bike lanes free and clear.” Inside cars, the company is now also adding “anti-dooring” decals to help warn departing passengers to look for cyclists before opening the door. It’s also advocating for protected lanes.

    “Changing the street design itself is the most important thing we can do to change behavior and reduce crashes,” she says. “So I think Lyft can be a partner by speaking out in support and bringing our partners to the table to do the same. I think we can also do it by supporting advocates on the ground that have been, for a very long time, fighting for bike lanes in cities before it was popular.”

    The company plans to use its financial resources to expand the reach of bike-sharing significantly–in New York, for example, Citi Bike will double the area of coverage, triple the number of bikes available, expand discounted memberships for low-income residents, and add other options like more electric bikes (the few e-bikes that are currently in the system get used roughly twice as much each day as other bikes, Samponaro notes). It will also launch bike-share networks in cities where bike-share doesn’t currently exist. At the same time, it plans to expand scooter networks.

    [Photo: Lyft]

    Because the company works with transportation holistically, Samponaro argues that it can help lead people to try new modes. “We’re connecting the dots between the ride-share, the transit, the bike, the scooter,” she says. “I think that in and of itself is going to be a game changer for the bike-share systems, because we’re going to be connecting a lot of people that maybe never would have tried those systems to bike-share.”

    As the company scales up bikes and scooters, it aims to get 1 million cars off the road by the end of 2019. By 2020, it also plans to have 50% of its rides be shared rides. Everything it does, she says, is “driving at our city partners’ larger goal of getting people out of cars and onto more sustainable modes.”

    In what could be the biggest move, the company is also considering how it can incentivize people both to use shared rides for trips and to try other options. In a recent month-long experiment called the Ditch Your Car Challenge, it gave selected car owners Lyft Shared credits, a temporary Zipcar membership, public transit fares, and bike-share credit to see what would happen. After it ended, more than half of the participants said that they planned to continue to drive less, and 68% said that they felt less stressed during the challenge.

    “Sometimes we think about change as being hard, and people don’t want to do something if it involves change, but I think the stats that we see here kind of speak to the opposite–this potential that giving people more options actually makes them feel like their life is easier and that they have less stress,” Samponaro says.


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    A new report from the Guardian claims Facebook’s partnership with independent journalists to combat disinformation on its social network was little more than a PR move.

    Facebook initiated the partnership with independent fact-checkers like Snopes shortly after it became clear that Russian trolls had spread disinformation to millions of users in an attempt to influence and undermine the 2016 presidential election.

    The Guardian spoke with current and former fact-checkers who said the partnership had produced minimal results, and that Facebook had refused to publish the work they’d done to debunk fake news. From the story:

    “They’ve essentially used us for crisis PR,” said Brooke Binkowski, former managing editor of Snopes, a factchecking site that has partnered with Facebook for two years. “They’re not taking anything seriously. They are more interested in making themselves look good and passing the buck … They clearly don’t care.”

    Facebook has 35 media partners helping it fact-check content, including the Associated Press, ABC News, PolitiFact, and Snopes. Facebook has said repeatedly that it has thousands of people working to curb fake news on its platform and that the volume of fake news is “trending downward.”

    However, the fact-checking partners don’t appear to be checking large numbers of suspect news items. The Guardian quotes the managing editor of ABC News Digital saying that her group has “done roughly two dozen Facebook fact checks.

    Even when a news item is debunked, Facebook doesn’t remove the content from its social network. It merely reduces the circulation of the content by applying a warning tag labeling the content as “disputed.” Facebook says the system reduces future impressions of the content by an average of 80%.

    But the Guardian claims that a lot of fake news remains on Facebook without a “disputed” tag. And even when a false news story is tagged as such, it can have the effect of making the item even more popular. That’s because people who agree with the information see the tag as an attempt to censor a viewpoint, then make an effort to get the item shared widely. The fact-checkers were especially put off by revelations that Facebook hired a Washington, D.C., PR firm to spread negative news about its critics and opponents, the Guardian reports.

    Facebook has become quick about responding directly and extensively to stories like the Guardian’s latest. In a detailed blog post on Thursday, Facebook’s head of news integrity partnerships, Meredith Carden, wrote the following:

    ” . . . the piece presents several inaccuracies, and is based primarily on the account of a single fact-checker who hasn’t been involved with the Facebook fact-checking program for six months. We provided information to The Guardian, but they chose not to include all of it.”

    Carden points to three pieces of third-party research showing that the overall volume of false news on Facebook is decreasing as a result of the third-party fact-checking program and other anti-misinformation measures.

    Carden says Facebook intends to start sending fact-checkers quarterly reports on their work, and the effects of their debunking on the circulation of content.

    I reached out to Facebook for further comment and will update if I hear back.


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    Businesses, schools, hospitals, and other institutions around the country received what appeared to be hoax bomb threats in their email inboxes Thursday, demanding ransom payment in bitcoin in exchange for not blowing up their facilities.

    “I can call off my man if you make a transfer,” said one, published by the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Police Department. “20.000 dollars is the cost for your life and business. Pay it to me in BTC and I warrant that I will withdraw my man and the device won’t detonate.”

    Generally, published versions of the threats appear to be generic messages not actually geared to any particular organization.

    Other threats have been reported around the country, leading to police investigations and evacuations. People were evacuated from a Georgia courthouse, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and schools around the country evacuated or took other actions to protect students. Newspapers including Park City, Utah’s Park Record and Raleigh, North Carolina’s News and Observer reportedly evacuated their buildings as well.

    So far, police agencies say no actual explosives have been found. Local, state, and federal authorities are investigating the threats.

    The Cedar Rapids message ended with an odd disclaimer: “If the explosive device detonates and the authorities see this letter: We are not terrorists and dont assume any liability for explosions in other places.”


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    If your Hinge date takes you to Chipotle, don’t feel too flattered: The food was free. On Thursday, dating app Hinge announced a new promotion with Chipotle in which Hinge members get a free burrito. (No word on extra guac charges.)

    Starting today through the end of year, Hinge users can buy one entree item, then get one item free at participating Chipotle locations. Members redeem the promotion through the app or though a unique code emailed to users.

    According to a press release provided to Fast Company,tasty Mexican food is very much part of dating culture. Hinge’s research found that profiles that mentioned queso were up to 70% more likely to receive a “like” than profiles that didn’t, while out of all Chipotle ingredients mentioned during Hinge conversations, chatting about chorizo led to the most dates.

    Chipotle needs this promotion to perform better than past ones. This past summer, the fast casual restaurant was overwhelmed by consumers looking to partake in its free guacamole promotion for National Avocado Day. The company didn’t fully calculate how much people love their guac, resulting in a halt of the promotion. Chipotle called the event “internet-breaking,” which only further infuriated its audience. (Rival chain Qdoba jumped on the opportunity to remind the public it offers free guacamole every day.)

    It’s been a rough year for Chipotle following serious food safety problems that led to hundreds of customers reporting symptoms of nausea and high fever. As such, the brand has increasingly advertised promotions ranging from National Nurses Week to buy-one, get-one-free deals for parents and students (that too suffered “technical issues”).

    Let’s hope they find better luck with cheap dates.


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    It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Sure, we mean the holidays, but also the spectacular astronomical event known as the Geminid Meteor Shower. The annual astronomical display takes place as a “weird” (NASA’s technical term) space rock called 3200 Phaethon zips by Earth, leaving a trail of space dust and other debris in its wake to burn up in the atmosphere. The result is a brilliant display of shooting stars that light up the sky, which is set to peak between late Thursday and the pre-crack-of-dawn hours on Friday morning.

    While the showers have occurred in mid-December every year since at least the 19th century, according to NASA, this year should be the best year ever with as many as 100 meteors per hour streaking across the sky.

    Here’s how to watch, according to NASA:

    • Head outside after the moon sets around 10:30 p.m. local time.
    • Then, find the darkest place you can, and give your eyes about 30 minutes to adjust to the darkness, which means not looking at your cell phone for 30 whole minutes, because it will mess up your night vision.
    • As you go through your phone withdrawal, lie flat on your back and look straight up, taking in as much sky as possible.
    • Then just wait for the nature’s laser light show to begin. NASA says the meteor shower should hit about 100 per hour at around 2 a.m., although that is for people in dark sky reserves or, you know, nature. Light from cities and even suburbs will dull the display a little.

    The meteor shower is expected to be so (ahem) out of this world that Google celebrated it with an interactive Doodle, designed to give a little starry fun to those of who don’t want to lie around outside in the pre-dawn hours.


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    When Amy Schumer gets dressed in the morning, she wants her clothes to make her feel like she is wearing a cloud. She often struggles to find off-the-rack clothing that suits her body and makes her feel good. Schumer speaks frequently about challenging the entertainment industry’s unrealistic expectations about what a woman’s body should look like. And she’s shared that she struggles to find clothes that look flattering. “Sometimes I just want to throw in the towel and say, no I don’t want to do standup tonight,” she said in an interview with Maria Shriver.

    As a successful actress and comedian, Schumer is fortunate to have a personal stylist and costume designer, Leesa Evans, who can make her clothes from scratch. Schumer and Evans met on the set of the 2015 movie Trainwreck, but since then, Evans has made Schumer many outfits that look elegant but feel, in Evans’s words, like “sweat pant alternatives.”

    [Photo: courtesy of Jake Rosenberg/Saks Off 5th]
    Schumer and Evans believe they have a marketable idea on their hands, and so they worked together on a new line of clothing that drops this week at Saks Off 5th, Saks’ less expensive sister store. The new brand is cheekily called Le Cloud, a name that reflects Schumer’s personal preference for soft, comfortable apparel. The 23-piece collection consists of jumpsuits, maxi dresses, pencil skirts, and crop pants, all made from soft, light fabrics, like crepe, terry, and satins.

    The pieces are designed to be affordable, ranging from $38 to $248, and in sizes ranging from zero to 20, although Schumer says she would like to go all the way to size 40 eventually. And 30% of net proceeds from Le Cloud will go to supporting Stylefund, a charity cofounded by Schumer and Evans to encourage women to use fashion as a tool to feel more confident in their own bodies.


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    Bull, a TV show loosely based on the early life of Dr. Phil McGraw, is one of the most popular shows on network television. But there’s an ugly side to it that is just coming to light.

    As the New York Times reported on Thursday, in the spring of 2017, series star Michael Weatherly lobbed a series of sexual remarks and jokes at guest star Eliza Dushku, who later confronted him about them and was subsequently written off the show. Although Dushku had only signed on for a three-episode arc, there were reportedly plans in the works to make her a series regular–a lucrative, high-profile, steady gig. When those plans were abruptly scrapped in the wake of the confrontation, Dushku took legal action.

    “After she went through mediation with CBS, the company agreed to a confidential settlement that would pay her $9.5 million, roughly the equivalent of what Ms. Dushku would have earned if she had stayed on as a cast member for four seasons,” the Times story explains.

    The revelation of this payout comes on the heels of recent reports about the network’s involvement in now-former chief executive Les Moonves’ sexual harassment (and worse) of at least 17 employees. Moonves was initially accused back in July, then was ousted from CBS, and now stands to lose his severance package, if not face further legal action.

    When it comes to corporate culture, the fish rots from the head. The news about Dushku further indicates that the rot may have spread all over at CBS.


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    If you walk into a supermarket in Switzerland sometime early next year and buy a bottle of Valser–a brand of sparkling water owned by Coca-Cola–the fizz inside might have come from CO2 sucked from the atmosphere. Coca-Cola HBC Switzerland, the bottling plant that makes the drinks, just partnered with Climeworks, one of the world’s pioneers of direct air capture of carbon dioxide, as a new supplier.

    At its plants, Climeworks uses stacked shipping containers filled with technology that pulls air inside and through filters that capture CO2 like an ultra-powerful tree. Once a filter is full, the collector is heated, releasing the gas in a pure form that can be injected deep underground for storage–one way to help begin to address the fact that the amount of carbon dioxide in the air is higher than it has been at any point in the last 400,000 years–or used by manufacturers. The company’s first partnership was with a nearby greenhouse that used the CO2 to help plants grow faster, and the beverage industry was the natural next step.

    “The beverage industry is among the only existing markets currently using CO2,” says Christoph Gebald, cofounder and director of the startup. Other applications are coming, from making carbon-neutral fuel or concrete to making plastic, shoes, or even fish feed. But greenhouses and the soda industry are using CO2 at relatively large scales now.

    If you put CO2 in soda or mineral water, of course, it’s not like sequestering it underground: When you open the bottle, the fizz comes out. And though the total global demand from soda and food companies for the product is around 6 million tons a year, the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggests that we may need to remove around 10 billion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere every year this century to help prevent the worst impacts of climate change. But by beginning with the soda industry, Climeworks hopes it can scale up its technology.

    “The beverage industry is really the bridge from today–no existing market–to enabling us to further work down our cost curve and industrialize the technology,” says Gebald. “It’s really the missing bridge between startups and, one day, climate-relevant scale to remove carbon from the air.”

    Right now, the industry typically sources CO2 from chemical factories that use natural gas as a feedstock. In some cases, bottlers use “natural” CO2, or CO2 taken from underground, where it otherwise would have been safely sequestered. Coca-Cola HBC, which was named the beverage industry leader on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index several years in a row, was interested in a more sustainable approach. “Sustainability is something at the core of their DNA,” says Gebald. “Therefore, sourcing CO2 from the atmosphere seemed like a logical step to do. Maybe there are other bottlers that are not that sustainability-driven but more price-driven, and maybe for them our solution is a little more in the future when prices come down.”

    Sucking CO2 from the atmosphere is more expensive than from other sources, though there are remote bottling plants–in the Australian outback, for example–that currently pay much more for the standard product, and where a local carbon-sucking plant might make sense. “Very soon, as we move down with the cost, more and more sites are attractive from a purely economic point of view,” says cofounder and director Jan Wurzbacher. After capturing the CO2, the company takes the additional step of an additional purification and testing process for the beverage industry.

    Ultimately, the new partnership is one step toward the company’s long-term vision of building its plants at a massive scale. To remove 1% of the world’s CO2 emissions, it calculates, would take around 250,000 carbon removal devices. It’s a staggering number. But it’s something that climate scientists believe will need to happen. To help keep global warming under the crucial number of 1.5 degrees Celsius, the world will have to go beyond even a shift to a zero-carbon economy–electric cars and renewable energy are one piece of the solution, but there’s already so much excess CO2 in the atmosphere that we also need negative-emissions technology. As the climate changes and deforestation continues, trees are less up to the job. As Climeworks’ technology pulls CO2 out of the air, much of it may have to be stored underground. The company has already proved this works in Iceland, where a plant captures CO2 from a geothermal plant, mixes it with water, and injects it underground, where it turns safely into stone.


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    Writing well can be difficult even for those who do it professionally. The English language is rife with opportunities to use the wrong words, punctuation, syntax, or style. And while some might shrug off an inability to communicate in writing as no big deal, others say it matters more than you might think.

    Writing, communication skills, and organizational skills are in high demand in nearly every occupation—even fields like IT and engineering—but difficult for employers to find, according to a study by job market analytics software firm Burning Glass Technologies.

    And being unable to write well may also hurt your personal brand and effectiveness. “If you have a reputation as a bad communicator, a bad writer, when emails come in and they see it’s from a certain person, a lot of people might just delete it before reading it. Like, “Oh, I know this never has anything important in it,” says business writing coach Jodi Torpey.

    While learning to communicate well in writing is a skill that takes practice, there are some tricks of the trade. Here, professional writing coaches share the most common writing mistakes they encounter—and how to remember to stop making them.

    Using the wrong tone

    One common error that business writing coach Wilma Davidson, author of Business Writing: What Works, What Won’t, sees often in her coaching practice is simply writing inappropriately for the audience. Whether it’s not considering what the recipient cares about, or sounding like you’re scolding when you’re correcting behavior, the wrong tone will turn people off, she says. Today, people need to consider cultural differences for global audiences.

    Solution. Visualize your recipient, suggests business writing consultant Natalie Canavor, author of Business Writing for Dummies. “Just take a minute to see them in your head, look at their office, hear their voice in your head,” she says. When you see the audience as a real person or people, you’re more likely to address them in a tone that resonates with them.

    Burying the key message

    In journalism, it’s called “burying the lede”—or “lead” to others. And it simply means that you’re taking too long to get to the point. Providing context or chronology may be necessary, but state your purpose or point up front, then get into the details, Torpey says.

    Solution. Write like a journalist, Torpey says. Journalists typically use the “inverted pyramid” approach to writing, stating the most relevant facts–who, what, when, where, and why–upfront. Then, they provide the background and supporting material for their story. This way, even if the reader doesn’t finish your email or document, you’ve still had a chance to get your point across.

    Committing word gaffes

    If social media has taught us anything, it’s that there’s a great deal of confusion about the use of certain words. Using the wrong word can make your writing confusing—or even change the meaning of what you’ve written—and may lead the audience to question your intelligence. Senka Hadzimuratovic, the head of communications at grammar platform Grammarly, points to commonly misused words, such as:

    • Than versus then:“Than” is comparative, while “then” can mean at that time or next in time/space/order.
    • Lose versus loose:“Lose” is a verb that can mean fail to win, misplace, or free oneself from something or someone. “Loose” is an adjective that means “not tight.”

    She also says people often have a problem with confusing homophones, such as:

    • Their/There/They’re:“Their” means “belonging to them.” “There” indicates a place. “They’re” is a contraction of “they are.”
    • Your/You’re: Your means “belonging to you.” You’re is a contraction of “you are.”

    Solution. “While they may sound similar, their differences ring loud and clear when written. Confusing these can often discredit your writing at work, so we strongly advise proofreading to ensure you’re using the correct word,” Hadzimuratovic says. Reading the document out loud can also help you spot instances where you have used the wrong word. And look especially closely when you spot an apostrophe. If it’s not contracting two words or showing possession, it’s probably wrong, she adds.

    And there are times when even using the right word can be problematic. Hadzimuratovic points out that “irregardless” is a word — it means the same thing as regardless. But dictionaries consider it nonstandard, and people have strong feelings about it. Grammarly took a poll, and 74% of readers did not consider it a word. In such situations, it may be better to substitute a more commonly accepted word.

    Including problematic turns of phrase

    Using tired phrases, colloquialisms, or idioms can be problematic. Hadzimuratovic says they can be difficult to learn and not translate well in business settings. For example, the phrase, “I could care less” is most often used to indicate that you have no interest left. To say, “I could care less” is, in fact, to imply that you do have more ability to care. The phrase for those searching to say they’ve really reached their wit’s end is, “I could not care less.”

    Solution. “Get rid of clichés,” Davidson says. “They do nothing for your writing.” When you find yourself relying on well-worn phrases, find another way to say what you mean.


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    Facebook today tried to quietly announce a bug it discovered on its platform. Essentially, between September 13 to September 25, 2018, certain third-party apps were given access to users’ photos beyond what they were supposed have. In fact, the screw-up gave the developers access to users’ photos they uploaded to Facebook but didn’t actually post.

    Facebook says the problem impacted as many 6.8 million users who used around 1,500 apps. These were all apps Facebook approved to use its photo API.

    It’s just the latest in a series of privacy blunders for Facebook. Beyond the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the company admitted to a security breach involving about 50 million users last October. Not only that, but this problem happened over two months ago, and the company is only now owning up to it.

    Yesterday, Facebook’s VP of marketing solutions, Carolyn Everson, told Digiday, “We care deeply, as deep as a company can care about privacy. It’s the foundation of our company, and we want people to know that we care.” As time goes on, statements like these sound more hollow.

    Facebook says it will be informing both developers and users involved in this bug. “We are also recommending people log into any apps with which they have shared their Facebook photos to check which photos they have access to,” the company wrote.

    We’ll see what privacy or security blunder the company cops to next week.


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    MIT engineers have found a way to use AI to reveal objects in total darkness–even transparent materials like glass and tissue.

    Current AI-based “night mode” technology, like the software you’ll find on Google’s Pixel 3, can make nighttime photos remarkably clear by quickly capturing multiple noisy photos and using AI to combine them into a single, noiseless photo. But unlike those techniques that require a lot of light to begin with, MITs method can work in a completely sealed room. In fact, it only requires one photon per pixel.

    It’s a breakthrough for imaging, and it could have implications for a broad range of industries. It could reveal invisible details in deep space photography and let doctors see living tissue inside of patients without damaging their cells. As the authors of the research paper, published this week in Physical Review Letters, explain: “When it comes to X-ray imaging, if you expose a patient to X-rays, you increase the danger they may get cancer. What we’re doing here is, you can get the same image quality, but with a lower exposure to the patient.” Coauthor and professor of mechanical engineering George Barbastathis told MIT News, “In biology, you can reduce the damage to biological specimens when you want to sample them.”

    [Images: MIT]
    The scientists trained a deep learning system by exposing it to photos of 10,000 glass-like etchings that were almost invisible to the eye to begin with. The photos themselves, taken in a sealed room with no light, looked like the static noise you might see on a TV. Then, the team trained the AI on those photos along with the corresponding patterns beneath all that visual noise–which they refer to as “ground-truths.”

    The system learned to make sense out of the apparently random black-and-white dots, though it ultimately produced out-of-focus images. To solve the blurriness, the researchers added another layer capable of focusing the output–which worked in a similar way to this depixelization AI–until they got a crystal-clear image. Once the AI was trained, they tested it with the image you can see in this article: a photo of gondolas docked at a pier taken in the dark.

    I can’t wait to see this system embedded in imaging systems, from medical devices to telescopes. Perhaps one day, the same computational power could let us take perfect smartphone photos even in the darkest conditions.


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    What:The Hustle, a funny short video parodying the quest for ultimate productivity.

    Who: Tech-skewering YouTubers KRAZAM.

    Why we care: On the surface, it may look like the protagonist of The Hustle is doing all the right things. Some of his productivity life hacks are ones that Fast Company may have even endorsed over the years, in our ongoing mission to elucidate how successful people manage their days. (To be fair, we’re also committed to explaining how some such work-life workarounds are garbage.) But as the video goes on, it becomes alarmingly clear that our hero’s commitment to cutting the clutter out of his time has made him an antisocial worker bee thriving on deprivation and self-satisfaction. It’s a wake-up call to the rise-and-grind set to not let crushing it at work get in the way of one’s humanity. And best of all, the video clocks in at just under two minutes, so you can probably fit it in on your pre-7 a.m. high-intensity interval training on the treadmill before logging into Slack for the day.


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    Robinhood, a brokerage app popular among millennials, announced the launch of a new low-interest checking and savings product yesterday, but not everyone seems thrilled.

    Today, the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), which insures the company’s brokerage accounts in the event of company failure, spoke out to say it does not, in fact, insure checking and savings accounts or any cash that is not meant for the direct purpose of investing.

    “SIPC protects cash that is deposited with a brokerage firm for one limited purpose . . . the purpose of purchasing securities,” Stephen P. Harbeck, president and CEO of SIPC, wrote via email. “Cash deposited for other reasons would not be protected. SIPC does not protect checking and savings accounts since the money has not been deposited for a protected purpose.”

    In an interview with Bloomberg, Harbeck further expressed concern for the new product, saying he reached out to the Securities and Exchange Commission to confirm whether or not his perspective—that the checking and savings funds would not be protected—was correct.

    SIPC spokesperson Kristen McCaughan noted that while Robinhood is an SIPC member firm, and its customers would be protected in the event the company failed, “The firm does have some lines of business that I believe fall outside the broker-customer relationship,” she said. Unless the cash in member accounts is for the express purpose of investing, it would not be covered. Additionally, SIPC only provides protection in the event that Robinhood fails.

    Fast Company reached out to Robinhood for comment and has yet to receive a response.


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    What goes through your mind when someone clips a microphone on you? I’m guessing that you won’t feel much physical sensation, but you’ll have a flood of emotional reactions because of what it symbolizes.

    When someone was putting a mic on one of my clients, she immediately said, “Please put the mic here–I don’t want to see an antenna sticking out of my head. I guess I’m high maintenance.”

    I applaud her first statement for being clear and direct. All of you, whenever you have a mic, should be concerned about having an antenna sticking out of your head–the Martian look is definitely a detractor from projecting leadership presence.

    So is negative self-talk. Here’s how to get beyond that impulse to put yourself down, and be in the best position to command respect before you give a presentation.

    Focus on the good, not the bad and the ugly

    The easiest way to counter negative talk is to visualize yourself in a moment that makes you feel safe and calm. For me, that means stretching out on the beach with my eyes closed as I feel the warm breeze on my skin. Your image might look completely different from mine–but whatever you choose, think of a strong image to balance the built-up tension. Don’t get fixated on that pimple that appeared this morning.

    Focus on succeeding rather than failing

    Failures are extremely memorable. Whether your experience occurred in kindergarten or grad school, you’re probably still thinking about it many years later. You then get tense and anxious, and you say to yourself, “What if it happens again? I failed before; I can fail again.”

    You know it’s counterproductive to think like this, but you can’t help it. That’s why you need to direct your mind to a different place. Don’t focus on what could go wrong; concentrate on what can go right.

    One of my clients was a heavy weight-lifting champion. In the final round of a big championship, he dropped the weight, was injured, and almost died. But then he healed, trained, and competed again. I asked him how he overcame his fear. He said he focused on succeeding.

    As you prepare to speak, picture yourself speaking confidently. You don’t have to think about giving a presentation. Just picture moments with your family, friends, or even your dog. The key is getting your mind to a relaxed state. The “how” doesn’t matter.

    Stop worrying about your vocabulary

    How many times did you worry about saying the wrong word before you open your mouth? You think that your words will come out wrong, or that you won’t sound sophisticated. You worry about mispronunciation.

    If you get stuck in this loop, you may never get out. The average speaker in a normal conversation makes a mistake every 4.6 seconds, according to Erving Goffman.

    Focus on your message rather than your words. What do you want the audience to come away with? What new insights and takeaways do you want to get across? Your audience isn’t going to care about your range of vocabulary if they feel a sense of connection with what you’re saying.

    Focus on feelings, not faces

    When you’re feeling nervous, you’ll probably start to look for smiling faces in the audience, hoping to assuage any bad feelings you might have. This is a natural thought, but it’s not a productive one. Your audience’s facial expression probably has nothing to do with what you’re saying.

    To convey confidence, you need to focus on what will take you forward, not what held you back in the past. Negative self-thought can feel crippling, but there are steps you can take to prevent that from happening. Every presentation is an opportunity to make a fresh start. Don’t let your past experiences take you away from that.


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    The dopey dad who doesn’t know how to change a diaper. The stressed out mom, cleaning the house while her husband does anything else. The soap that will definitely (maybe?) get you laid. All familiar advertising clichés that have been beaten into the ground and into our heads over decades of mediocre marketing. Now Britain’s Advertising Standards Association (ASA) has introduced a new rule that aims to cut out of advertising overtly sexist depictions of men and women in gender stereotypical roles, as well as suggestions that transforming your body will make you romantically successful, and the sexualization of young women.

    The ASA’s gender stereotyping project lead Ella Smillie told the Guardian that the organization doesn’t see its role as social engineering, but rather reflecting the changing standards in society. “Changing ad regulation isn’t going to end gender inequality, but we know advertising can reinforce harmful gender stereotypes, which can limit people’s choices or potential in life,” she said.

    The ASA isn’t a government agency, but an industry organization with a self-regulated code of practice signed on to by all major advertisers. The new rule, which will start being enforced in June 2019, also applies to any social media posts by celebrities and other influencers paid for by advertisers.

    Far from an intrusive Nanny State edict, the new rule is simply dragging lazy, negligent marketers still trafficking in this dreck up to what smart brands are already doing. It’s been two years since the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) in the U.S. and the White House announced the #SeeHer initiative to encourage advertisers, content creators, and the media to produce material that authentically portrays diverse women and girls. Also in 2016, Unilever CMO Keith Weed announced that the company pledged to drop all sexist stereotypes from its advertising after research showed that only 2% of ads portray intelligent women.

    At Cannes Lions in 2016, Deutsch president Kim Getty gave a talk called “Men Versus Women: Exploring Marketing’s Impact on Gender Bias,” and told the audience of marketers that because women make up nearly half the workforce, when writing a script with a woman in it, assume she works. “Just start there,” said Getty. “When you’re writing a story for a man, assume he knows how to change a diaper and make dinner. Assume he’s capable, because so many men are awesome and capable. Just start there. So many stories don’t start there. Let’s start with how the world looks today.”

    It’s now 2018, and brands shouldn’t need rules for this.


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    As Groucho Marx once said, outside of a dog, books are man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.

    So assuming everyone on your holiday gift list is outside of a dog, you may want to start spreading a little Christmas cheer by putting some pretty ribbons on books and doling them out to everyone you know, love, or just kinda like. Or just go buy yourself a stack of reading material and ignore your family over the holidays.

    If for some reason you don’t feel like supporting Amazon, or you just want to live in a world where independent bookstores still thrive, here is a list of some of the best independent bookstores around, mostly chosen by the book-loving nerds at Fast Company. These stores don’t own Whole Foods, or share an owner with the Washington Post, or trade in face-recogntition technology (that we know of), but they do sell books:


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    As news breaks about CBS’s secret $9.5M settlement with Eliza Dushku over charges of sexual harassment, the network has offered some good news as counterprogramming.

    CBS is reportedly allocating $20M from ousted CEO Les Moonves’ severance package to go to 18 organizations that fight against workplace sexual harassment. It’s all part of the network’s PR strategy to communicate the message: We now realize that sexual harassment, and covering it up or even aiding it internally, is Bad.

    According to Variety, the organizations include: Catalyst; Collaborative Fund for Women’s Safety and Dignity (Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors); Free the Bid; Freedom Forum Institute – Power Shift Project; Futures Without Violence;  Girls for Gender Equity / “Me Too” Movement; International Women’s Media Foundation; National Women’s Law Center;  New York Women’s Foundation; Press Forward; Producers Guild of America Foundation; RAINN; STRIVE International; Sundance Institute’s Momentum program; TIME’S UP Entertainment; TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund; Women in Film Los Angeles; Women’s Media Center.

    Whether Moonves stands to receive the remaining $100M of his severance remains to be seen.


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