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Waymo Is Quietly Winning The Self-Driving Car Race

Tue, 04/25/2017 - 18:52


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If actions speak louder than words, the self-driving car company Waymo might as well be shouting.


Waymo, the startup spun off from Google last year, said Monday it will add 500 self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans to its fleet, bringing the total number of autonomous vehicles it has on the road to about 600.


The bulk of those additional minivans will operate in the Phoenix area, where Waymo has been quietly operating a test program for select families, with plans to open up its free program to hundreds more for a public trial.


“Over the course of this trial, we’ll be accepting hundreds of people with diverse backgrounds and transportation needs who want to ride in and give feedback about Waymo’s self-driving cars,” CEO John Krafcik explained in a blog post.


“Rather than offering people one or two rides, the goal of this program is to give participants access to our fleet every day, at any time, to go anywhere within an area that’s about twice the size of San Francisco.”



The addition of 500 vehicles will dramatically increase Waymo’s ability to capture critical mapping data ― and to use that data to improve its software (read more about that here) ― launching the company even further ahead of competitors like Uber and Lyft (though probably not Tesla, which has a couple billion miles under its belt, compared with Waymo’s 3 million).


Waymo’s self-driving fleet isn’t just larger than Uber’s (as of March 8, Uber had 43 cars). It’s also substantially better at driving.


According to documents filed with the state of California, Waymo’s human drivers had to take control from the automated system (called “disengagement”) once for every 5,000 miles its cars drove in 2016.


Backup human drivers in Uber’s self-driving cars had to take over about once every mile as of March 8, according to documents obtained by Recode (Uber doesn’t make its data publicly available).


Some of the difference can be attributed to location. Uber is testing many of its cars in Pittsburgh, which has much more challenging climate and geography than Phoenix. Waymo is also testing vehicles in Texas, California, and Washington state.


Waymo and Uber have been fighting a fierce battle over intellectual property. Waymo has accused Uber of stealing some of its critical technology in a lawsuit. The case is scheduled for a hearing May 3, when a judge could halt Uber’s self-driving program until the case is resolved.

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Group Accused Of DNC Hack Also Targeted Firm Formerly Known As Blackwater: Report

Tue, 04/25/2017 - 13:41


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WASHINGTON ― A cyber-espionage group that targeted political parties during U.S. and French elections also launched a phishing campaign against Academi, the private military firm formerly known as Blackwater, a new report says.


Pawn Storm, a hacking group also known as Fancy Bear, targeted Academi on April 24, 2014, according to a report released Tuesday by the cybersecurity firm Trend Micro. Crowdstrike, another security firm, has said Fancy Bear is believed to be "closely linked" to Russian intelligence services.


The Trend Micro report does not indicate whether Pawn Storm succeeded in stealing information from Academi during the phishing attack. Academi did not respond to multiple requests for comment for this story.


Academi is the latest incarnation of Blackwater, a private military contractor founded by Erik Prince in 1997. Blackwater gained notoriety in 2007 when its employees shot at and killed more than a dozen civilians in Baghdad while escorting a U.S. convoy. As part of an attempt to clean up its image, Blackwater was renamed “Xe Services” two years later. Prince sold the company in 2010 and the new owners gave it yet another name: “Academi.”


Prince, whose sister, Betsy DeVos, is President Donald Trump’s secretary of education, has been in the news lately because of his ties to the Trump campaign. Last July, he recommended to senior Trump adviser Steve Bannon that the Trump administration replicate a Vietnam War-era CIA assassination program to be used against the militant group known as the Islamic State. In January, Prince reportedly acted as a representative of Trump during a secret meeting organized by the United Arab Emirates in Seychelles with a Russian close to President Vladimir Putin. (A spokesman for Prince denied that he took part in the meeting.)


On a Frequently Asked Questions page on its website, Academi says Prince has not been associated with the company since he sold it in 2010.


In May 2014, weeks after Pawn Storm reportedly targeted Academi, the German tabloid Bild am Sonntag alleged that Academi had 400 fighters on the ground in Ukraine backing the interim government against pro-Russian separatists. The story echoed earlier rumors circulating in Russian state-owned media outlets that the U.S. had sent mercenaries to help the Ukrainian special police crush opposition fighters in Donetsk and Lugansk.


In a statement, Academi called the Bild am Sonntag report “completely false.” Then-U.S. national security spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden called the report “nonsense.”


At the time, Russia had recently annexed the Ukrainian territory of Crimea and was building up its military presence in and around Ukraine. McClatchy suggested that the German report could be part of a propaganda effort by Russia to diminish support for the government in Kiev.


“Russia has been waging a decade-long propaganda war to sour Ukrainians on the government in Kiev, and this report fits right in to Russia’s hopes to reduce international pressure on it,” McClatchy's Matthew Schofield noted. "To be able to show that the United States, even in the form of mercenaries and not official military personnel, are active on behalf of Kiev would to many further justify Russian actions."


The Trend Micro report released Tuesday does not indicate whether hackers obtained any information from Academi that they were later able to weaponize. But it does describe Pawn Storm’s practice of using the media “to publicize attacks and influence public opinion.”


Guccifer 2.0, the hacker who claimed responsibility for the cyberattack against the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 presidential campaign, approached reporters and offered them exclusive access to password-protected parts of the website dcleaks.com, where stolen emails were housed. According to Trend Micro, Guccifer 2.0 is “very likely” affiliated with Pawn Storm.


Last year, Fancy Bear hackers provided Der Spiegel, a respected German magazine, with internal emails from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and the World Anti-Doping Agency. The magazine used information from these emails in its feature about the effort to combat sports doping.


In its report, Trend Micro lists dozens of governments, political parties, international and private organizations, and news outlets that were targeted by Pawn Storm ― including the campaign of Emmanuel Macron, who is facing pro-Russian candidate Marine Le Pen in the French presidential election. 

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King Joffrey Hugging A Pug Sparks ‘Game Of Thrones' Photoshop Battle

Tue, 04/25/2017 - 13:20


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Funny is coming.


Actor Jack Gleeson made quite the lasting impression with his portrayal of the ruthless baby king Joffrey Baratheon in Seasons 1 through 3 of “Game of Thrones.”








His performance was so good that it’s hard for many “GoT” fans to separate the actor from the character.


This means that when Gleeson posted a photo of himself hugging a pug on Twitter in January 2016, it’s hard to not see Joffrey, a powerful, bloodthirsty brat, cuddling an innocent animal.



Puppy love pic.twitter.com/nBNGwGpcD9

— Jack Gleeson (@JackGleeson_) January 25, 2016


On Monday, the picture made its way to Reddit’s popular Photoshop Battle thread, and, let’s just say Reddit users also had a hard time separating Gleeson from the Iron Throne.


The result is a bunch of Photoshopped versions of Gleeson’s pug picture that are a straight-up Greyjoy for any “GoT” fan to behold.


For instance, there are a few pretty innocent photos with pretty blatant references to the HBO show:



View post on imgur.com


View post on imgur.com


View post on imgur.com

Then, there are few that are a little more esoteric. For example, the caption on this one is, “Nymeria still keeps biting me!”



View post on imgur.com

And this picture boasts the hilarious caption: “Oysters, Clams, and Pug.”



View post on imgur.com

One Redditor went there with a Ned Stark beheading reference:



View post on imgur.com

Then another Redditor decided to reference a completely different kind of king:



King of the Jungle is born!!

Oh, internet, don’t ever change.

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Drones Aid In Search For Lost Grand Canyon Hikers

Tue, 04/25/2017 - 12:28


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Hobby drones are banned in most national parks. But Grand Canyon National Park made use of the unmanned areal surveillance tools in a search last week for Lou Ann Merrell, wife of the founder of the Merrell hiking boot company, and her step grandson, The Associated Press reports.


Merrell and 14-year-old Jackson Standefer were hiking with family members April 19 when they lost their footing crossing a tributary of the Colorado River and were swept into the current.


Searchers found a backpack and camera with photos of the two, but have not found the hikers.



As part of the search effort, rangers made use of the park’s park’s five drones and four certified operators. The teen’s family also flew in specialists with a “Sky Ranger military-grade drone equipped with extra capabilities” to help with the search, according to a statement.


The search has been scaled back, and the families said in a statement they support the decision but are still “praying for a miracle.”



Despite the disheartening results of the drone search, rangers have found that the drones are important extra resources in tracking injured and lost people in the 2,000-square-mile territory, administrators told the AP. Last year, the park had 6 million visitors, 293 search-and-rescue missions, 1,200 medical emergencies — and 17 deaths, according to the news agency.


National parks have also used drones for fire surveillance. In 2015, authorities successfully used a drone over the Paradise fire in Olympic National Park in Washington state to gather infrared information through a thick canopy of trees. This helped firefighters map blaze perimeters and areas that contained the most intense heat.





But members of the public have also used drones to snap photos and videos of fires, which has, at times, forced firefighting aircraft to be grounded for safety. 


Besides being a far cheaper alternative to a helicopter and covering vast spaces quickly, the drones have the major added advantage of sparing rescue workers from the danger of flying over over fires, through dangerous canyon updrafts and close to cliffs. And they were a useful tool during the recovery process after the 2015 Nepal earthquake and, to a lesser extent, following Haiti’s 2010 quake and the 2013 typhoon in the Philippines.


Drones can prove “pivitol” because of their ability to “provide information in real time to responders,” Meetu Vijay, Global Medic’s drone operator on the ground in Kathmandu and a member of Global Medic’s water and sanitation teams, told HuffPost in 2015.


As rescue teams continue to search for Merrell and her step grandson, WTVC reported that a celebration of life will be held for the teen this week.


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Woman Says Her Fitbit Device Exploded, Leaving Her With Severe Burns

Tue, 04/25/2017 - 12:22


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We’ve heard of exploding cell phones and e-cigarettes. Now, a Wisconsin woman is warning about exploding fitness trackers.


Fitbit owner Dina Mitchell said she was wearing her Flex 2 device last week when it spontaneously exploded on her wrist, leaving her with second-degree burns.


“It didn’t heat up at first, there was no warning, it just, it burst into flames. It exploded,” the Milwaukee resident told WISN News of the April 18 incident.



Mitchell, who said the tracker was a recent birthday present, told ABC News that she received treatment at an urgent care facility for her injury. A doctor there picked pieces of rubber and plastic out of her arm.


Aurora Health Care’s urgent care facility in Waukesha confirmed Mitchell’s visit to WTMJ News.


Fitbit, in a statement obtained by HuffPost, said they’ve since spoken with Mitchell about what happened and are “actively investigating this issue.”



“We are extremely concerned about Ms. Mitchell’s report regarding her Flex 2 and take it very seriously, as the health and safety of our customers is our top priority,” a spokesperson said. “Fitbit products are designed and produced in accordance with strict standards and undergo extensive internal and external testing to ensure the safety of our users.”


They added that this is the first complaint they’re aware of and “see no reason for people to stop wearing their Flex 2” devices.


According to Fitbit’s website, the Flex 2 trackers run on lithium-polymer batteries.


In the past, lithium batteries have made similar headlines after other devices like cell phones, laptops, hoverboards, and headphones caught fire, in some cases injuring people. The Federal Aviation Administration reports a number of incidents on planes involving both lithium ion batteries and lithium polymer batteries. The two types of batteries are only marginally different, according to website Battery University, which is published by Canadian company Cadex Electronics.


Mitchell did not immediately return a request for comment from HuffPost.


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He’s The Last Male Northern White Rhino On Earth, And He’s Now On Tinder

Tue, 04/25/2017 - 08:13

In his Tinder profile, Sudan is described as “one of a kind” — and that’s not a baseless boast. 


He’s the last male northern white rhino on the planet and, as his profile explains, “the fate of my species literally depends on me.”


On Tuesday, Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy and dating app Tinder announced a joint campaign to raise awareness about Sudan’s plight, and to raise funds to support efforts to save the northern white rhino from extinction.


“We partnered with [the conservancy] to give the most eligible bachelor in the world a chance to meet his match,” Matt David, Tinder’s head of communications, said in a statement. 


“I perform well under pressure. I like to eat grass and chill in the mud,” reads Sudan’s Tinder profile. “6 ft tall and 5,000lbs if it matters.”


Starting Tuesday, Tinder users in 140 countries could stumble upon Sudan’s profile as they swipe through potential matches. Users will have the option to swipe right on Sudan; if they do, they’ll see a message that features a link where they can donate.



Sudan, who lives at the conservancy where he’s protected 24/7 by armed guards, is one of three remaining northern white rhinos on Earth. The other two — females named Najin and Fatu — also live at the sanctuary. Attempts to breed the rhinos naturally have thus far failed, however.


In a last-ditch effort to save the northern white rhino, scientists have turned to in vitro fertilization. IVF is a challenging, costly and controversial solution, but it’s the “last option” left to save the subspecies, the conservancy’s CEO Richard Vigne said in a statement this week.  


Researchers in the United States, Germany and Japan are currently testing ways to use IVF on Najin and Fatu, as well as female southern white rhinos, with Sudan’s stored sperm, said the conservancy.


Southern white rhinos number about 17,000 in the wild but are a distinct subspecies. Still, crossing the two subspecies would be better than extinction, conservationists say.  


The research consortium says it hopes to establish a herd of 10 northern white rhinos after five years of using IVF. If it works, it’ll be the first time artificial reproduction will successfully be carried out in a rhino species. 


But according to Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, which is involved in the IVF effort, “financial support remains the biggest challenge to this project.”


“To win this run against time it is very crucial to find major funds as quickly as possible,” a spokesperson for the German institute said this week.


Tinder said its campaign aims to help raise the $9 million needed for research into the “assisted reproductive techniques” that scientists hope could save the animal.


“As a platform that makes millions of meaningful connections every day, raising awareness about Sudan the rhino and the importance of finding his match seemed like something we could support in a really impactful way,” a Tinder spokesperson told Mashable. “We’ve heard countless stories about Tinder babies, but this would be the first match to save a species.”



Humans were responsible for the steep decline in the numbers of the northern whites; this is our chance at redemption. #mosteligiblebachelor pic.twitter.com/yPL14K3NC2

— Ol Pejeta (@OlPejeta) April 25, 2017


In 1960, more than 2,000 northern white rhinos lived in the wild, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature. Poaching, however, decimated this number to just 15 by 1984.


“The plight that currently faces the northern white rhinos is a signal to the impact that humankind is having on many thousands of other species across the planet,” Vigne said. 


Tinder and the Ol Pejeta Conservancy have both expressed hope that this campaign could mark a positive turning point for the critically endangered subspecies. 


“I would not be surprised if Mr. Sudan turned out to be one of our most Right Swiped users,” Tinder’s David said on Tuesday. 


 


Dominique Mosbergen is a reporter at HuffPost covering climate change, extreme weather and extinction. Send tips or feedback to dominique.mosbergen@huffingtonpost.com or follow her on Twitter


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Why Sheryl Sandberg Decided To Speak Openly About Losing Her Husband

Mon, 04/24/2017 - 23:46

Nearly two years ago, Sheryl Sandberg poured 1,743 words of raw emotion into a Facebook post that essentially made everyone on the internet cry.


Her husband, Dave Goldberg, had died suddenly at the age of 47, not even 30 days earlier. The calendar marked the end of the traditional Jewish mourning period for spouses, but she hardly felt done with grief. Sandberg wasn’t even sure she would hit publish, the Facebook executive told HuffPost last week. She wrote feverishly, put it aside and went to bed.


The post was her desperate attempt to connect with friends and coworkers from whom she felt increasingly isolated in her mourning. “I woke up and thought, this is so bad. And I hit post,” she said.


The writing is pure heartbreak. Sandberg writes over and over about her sadness. About mothering her children while they screamed and cried in pain. “I have lived thirty years in these thirty days. I am thirty years sadder. I feel like I am thirty years wiser,” she writes. “When tragedy occurs, it presents a choice. You can give in to the void, the emptiness that fills your heart, your lungs, constricts your ability to think or even breathe. Or you can try to find meaning.”


Though she didn’t realize it at the time, Sandberg’s essay marked a clear tipping point in her journey back from the hell of a shocking loss. By opening up about her feelings, Sandberg was inviting others to support her ― including colleagues and friends who’d been unsure of what to say. The post offered guidance.


And that guidance formed the basis for Sandberg’s next project. Her latest book, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, out Monday, tackles a universal yet enduringly under-discussed subject: grief.



While her Silicon Valley peers have worked for years on technologies that would extend life, Sandberg’s project offers up a path to happiness based not on fantasies of immortality but on the reality of the sorrow of life itself.


At the time she first posted about Goldberg’s death, Sandberg had already returned to work at Facebook, where she’d been chief operating officer for nearly a decade. She was feeling increasingly lonely.


A notoriously outgoing and collaborative manager, she was surrounded by familiar colleagues and friendly faces. Yet, with the exception of her boss, Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, no one at the office seemed to know what to say to her. 


“When I came back to work there was a real feeling of isolation,” she said. “It felt like no one was talking to me.... The chitchat ground to a halt. People looked at me like I was a ghost.”


Just a few years ago, Sandberg wrote Lean In, exhorting women to be ambitious, to ask for what they want, to be their full selves at work.  


“Losing Dave brought that home for me,” she said. “My whole self was so sad.”


She found herself increasingly holed up in a conference room with Zuckerberg, hiding from the awkwardness of the office. “Mark was the person I turned to,” Sandberg said. 



Sandberg, who first met Zuckerberg when he was a 23-year-old CEO struggling with his role, has long been credited with guiding him to maturity. But this time he was helping her.


“Mark is one of the first people I called when I lost Dave,” she said. “Mark planned the funeral.” He and his wife, Priscilla, were frequent visitors to Sandberg’s house in Menlo Park during the days and weeks after Goldberg’s death. They played with Sandberg’s kids. Zuckerberg helped her son with his math homework, she said.


At work, Zuckerberg was supportive in a very traditional way, telling Sandberg to take as much time as she needed. But, crucially, he also encouraged her actual work. In one of her first meetings after she returned, Sandberg was a bit out of it, she writes. She even misidentified a colleague, and instead of criticizing her or saying something about how he understands she’s still adjusting, Zuckerberg insisted she would’ve made the mistake before Goldberg died. And, even better, also told her she made a great point in the meeting. In short, he made her feel valued.


Sometimes people just need someone to tell them they’re doing OK, and that is key to helping a colleague in grief, Sandberg said. She wanted to feel like she was still a productive worker. “I had no idea how he knew ― I am older and I didn’t know how to do these things. I don’t think this is me teaching him, it’s him teaching me,” she said.


Typically, no one knows what to say to someone who is suffering a loss or an illness or a trauma, Sandberg said. “You want to silence a room? Get cancer. Have a friend or a family member who goes to prison. Lose a job,” she said. “We isolate ourselves.” 



In her post, Sandberg offered guidance on what to say.


“When people say to me, ‘You and your children will find happiness again,’ my heart tells me, Yes, I believe that, but I know I will never feel pure joy again. Those who have said, ‘You will find a new normal, but it will never be as good’ comfort me more because they know and speak the truth,’” she wrote in her post.


“Even a simple ‘How are you?’—almost always asked with the best of intentions— is better replaced with ‘How are you today?’ When I am asked ‘How are you?’ I stop myself from shouting, My husband died a month ago, how do you think I am? When I hear ‘How are you today?’ I realize the person knows that the best I can do right now is to get through each day.”


Sandberg was opening up about death in a real way. For many who’ve struggled with grief, to read an honest piece from the accomplished executive, about a subject so taboo and painful, was a revelation. The post today has more than 400,000 shares, close to 1 million likes and tens of thousands of comments.


The effect for Sandberg was immediate, she said. “Everyone started saying, ‘How are you today?’” Sandberg said. People started telling her about their own experiences with loss.


“I felt connected to a larger experience of life. There’s so much hardship out there,” she said. “The grief didn’t change, but the isolation did. I felt so much less alone.”



When I hear ‘How are you today?’ I realize the person knows that the best I can do right now is to get through each day.
Sheryl Sandberg


Like Lean In, the new book is part memoir. She writes of the agony of telling her two young children, just 7 and 10 years old, that their father was dead. “I have terrible news. Terrible,” she told them. “Daddy died.”


“The screaming and crying that followed haunt me to this day,” she writes.


The book is also a practical guide for handling grief and adversity. With her coauthor, and friend, psychologist and Wharton professor Adam Grant, Sandberg lays out anecdotes ― she’s spoken with rape survivors, people who’ve gone to prison, refugees ―  and research on perseverance and resilience.


Acutely aware that she’s a billionaire privileged beyond all imagining, Sandberg is extremely careful to write about the suffering of others. In conversation, she acknowledges her privilege repeatedly. When asked about her struggles to parent as a single mother, she demurred. “So many people have immense hardship.” 


In Sandbergian fashion she has also launched a website, OptionB.org, where people can turn for support and guidance in the face of loss.


Surely, an unintentional side benefit to Sandberg’s latest project is that she’s essentially made the case for Facebook ― it offers human connection ― at a time when the social network is under criticism for increasing political polarization.


The new book and website is an attempt to open up conversations about difficult subjects on a mass scale, furthering Facebook’s ostensible mission.



Sandberg found her husband, already dead, on the floor in a hotel gym in Mexico where the two were celebrating a friend’s birthday. Sandberg had unwittingly spoken her last words to him, “I’m falling asleep,” while laying poolside earlier that day, ending a game of Settlers of Catan they were playing on their iPads. That afternoon she had told her son she’d have to talk to his dad before they could make a decision about buying new sneakers.


An autopsy would later confirm that Goldberg, who was CEO of Survey Monkey and a well-known Silicon Valley figure, had a fatal cardiac arrhythmia, caused by coronary artery disease, while running on the treadmill.


They were married for 11 years; friends for longer than that.  


Now she’s dating again. “I never wanted to,” she said. “I wanted to spend my life with Dave. That’s a choice I don’t get to make.”


Sandberg, who is 47-years-old, used to joke about getting older. No more. “There’s only two choices we grow older or we don’t,” she said. “I took it for granted I would grow old and Dave would grow old. It never occurred to me we wouldn’t,” she said.


Finding growth and ultimately joy is the project of Option B. Sandberg makes a point of emphasizing this aspect. The title echoes something a friend told her after Goldberg’s passing. 


When Sandberg was sad she couldn’t bring Goldberg to a school event and had to find someone else to fill in. “But I want Dave,” she said to her friend, as she recounted in her post and again in the book. “He put his arm around me and said, ‘Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the shit out of Option B.’ “


A chronic over-achiever, Sandberg has definitely lived up to that plan. After Goldberg’s death, she was just struggling to make it through the day she said. But with this book it’s clear that the Harvard MBA, former Google executive is just as ambitious as ever.


Still, things have changed. Sandberg said she travels much less than she used to. Long gone are the days of hosting women’s dinners at her house, she said. “Dave covered when I would have a women’s dinner,” she said. “I don’t do those things anymore.” But she quickly added: “So many people have so much hardship. That’s not what I mourn for. Of course, I had to make big changes.”


And when asked her about her career goals, she pivoted, saying it’s important to live your dreams and find things you want to do. “Even small silly things,” she said. “I’m a really bad piano player and I sing worse, but in those moments I can’t think about anything else. I won’t pretend the grief doesn’t still hit.”

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This Flying Vehicle May Be Coming To A Lake Near You

Mon, 04/24/2017 - 17:57


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As engineers tinker away at perfecting self-driving cars, Google co-founder Larry Page is preparing to release a personal flying vehicle.


An ultralight aircraft called the Kitty Hawk Flyer has been unveiled in a YouTube video that shows it zipping over a lake while commandeered by a single rider.


The electric, propeller-driven prototype is the work of Page’s Silicon Valley startup company, Kitty Hawk, which announced that the vehicle will go on sale later this year.



“As you can see it’s a bit rough around the edges, but we were so excited to show you its capabilities that we didn’t want to wait until we finished its design. The consumer version will be available by the end of this year,” the company states on its website.


The prototype can fly up to 15 feet in altitude and can land vertically, eliminating a need for a runway, according to a press release by the company. The New York Times, which got a sneak peek at the aircraft, described the Kitty Hawk Flyer as sounding like a “speedboat.”


No pilot’s license or registration is required to operate the aircraft, according to the company citing the Federal Aviation Administration’s ruling on Ultralight vehicles. The Flyer’s use is limited to “uncongested areas” over freshwater, however. (Yes, that means no flying over lanes of stalled traffic.)


As for a price, a figure has yet to be released. Those who sign up for Kitty Hawk’s Flyer Discovery Membership do receive a $2,000 discount and placement on the product’s wait list, according to Kitty Hawk’s website.





Many other questions remain unanswered, including how fast it can go and how long the battery’s charge would last. The Times reported that today’s batteries are unable to support trips up to 30 to 50 miles.


A Kitty Hawk spokesperson, reached by HuffPost by email on Monday, said they’re unable to release more details at this time.


The final retail product is promised to have a different design than the prototype seen in the video released this week. The Times reported that it will also be a bit quieter.


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Samsung Destroys Guy Who Made A Dick Pic Joke On Twitter

Mon, 04/24/2017 - 17:14

What a tool.


Last week, Samsung posted a photo of its latest phone release, the Galaxy S8, on its Twitter page. In the caption, the company encouraged its fans to share the first photo they took with the new phone.



Got your hands on the Galaxy S8? Show us the first photo you took. pic.twitter.com/HDTHWibR0A

— Samsung Mobile US (@SamsungMobileUS) April 21, 2017


Many of the tweets were pretty cute.



@SamsungMobileUS The first one pic.twitter.com/aPFD4asG4b

— Robert (@mihrdeldia) April 22, 2017



@SamsungMobileUS pic.twitter.com/OsbDdnJy3H

— Becca (@Its_Beccaw) April 21, 2017



@SamsungMobileUS Lazy pic.twitter.com/2GiyPTFWBf

— Ale (@alebonetto12) April 21, 2017


Then that guy, who goes by the Twitter handle, @savEdward, decided to pipe up and make a that joke.



@SamsungMobileUS It was a dick pic

— Edward (@savEdward) April 21, 2017


But Samsung wasn’t having any of that. The company decided to respond to @savEdward with a simple yet effective emoji.



@savEdward

— Samsung Mobile US (@SamsungMobileUS) April 21, 2017


Needless to say, Twitter was quick to sing Samsung’s praises.



@SamsungMobileUS @savEdward SCREEEEEAAAAAAAMMMMMMIIIIIINNNNNNGGGGG!

— Tundé Lahren (@ThatsSoTunde) April 21, 2017



@SamsungMobileUS @savEdward Looks like it's not just Samsung's phones giving people burns.

— Conner Fritz (@connerfritz) April 21, 2017



@SamsungMobileUS @savEdward I would expect nothing but top notch dick humor from a company that is notorious for shipping devices prone to premature explosions. pic.twitter.com/Xb4l9TF7ZR

— Mitchel Lewis (@savantdotwtf) April 23, 2017



@SamsungMobileUS @savEdward I should leave iPhone simply because of this tweet #SamsungSavage

— Shorty on B93.7! (@RadioShorty) April 22, 2017


Well played, Samsung. Well played.

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You Can Now Download And Use The Fonts Of Your Favorite '90s TV Shows

Mon, 04/24/2017 - 15:53

If you’ve longed to write “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” fan fiction in the exact font the iconic ‘90s horror anthology used for its logo ― well, dedicated SNICK follower, your time has come.


Thanks to this website, you can write all the teenage campfire drama you want, in the Benguiat Bold typeface you’ve come to love. In fact, you can even read a bit about the font’s origins, and other typefaces destined for ‘90s TV show stardom, thanks to typography expert Alexander Tochilovsky, the design curator of the Herb Lubalin Study Center of Design and Typography in New York City.


“The ‘Are You Afraid of the Dark?’ logo is an interesting one,” he explains on the site. “While it’s seemingly very simple with the oval and a clip art like hand, the decision to use this particular typeface is slightly more sophisticated. Conceptually, though, it fits the show perfectly and has the right feel for the intended audience ― especially with the ‘glow in the dark’ vibe it carries.”



Not interested in Tochilovsky’s breakdown of “AYAOTD?” font? (For shame.) How about his take on the “Frasier” typeface? Or “Rugrats”? Or “Fresh Prince”? Or “Twin Peaks”? 


The list goes on. Tochilovsky’s got a whole host of downloadable fonts on the site, courtesy of interactive content creation platform Ceros, along with blurbs that let you know that Gabriel Weiss’ “Friends” font is hand-drawn, and that the “Law and Order” typeface is called Friz Quadrata Std Roman, while the “90210” font is Newhouse DT SuperCondensed Bold. 


Typography devotees, go ahead and enjoy a little bit of nostalgia with your dose of design.


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Target Turned Its Shopping Carts Into 'Mario Karts'

Mon, 04/24/2017 - 14:39

Mario Kart fans, get pumped!


In honor of the April 28 launch of Mario Kart 8 for Nintendo Switch, Target has unveiled themed shopping carts, entrance music and more. 



On April 20, over 650 Target stores across the country went into “full game-on mode” with Mario Kart carts featuring Mario, Luigi and Princess Peach. This is the first time Target has decorated its iconic red carts.


The stores also feature big round Mario and Luigi bollards, and the entrances have been transformed into starting lines. “As you walk through, motion sensors fire up flashing lights and play Mario’s catchy theme song,” states a press release for the video game festivities.




“Experience counts—it’s what keeps guests coming in and coming back to our stores,” senior vice president of merchandising, Scott Nygaard, notes in the press release. “So we’re delivering the fun like only Target can, giving generations of Mario fans a shopping trip they won’t soon forget.”


Indeed, both parents and kids who love Mario Kart have been enjoying the new additions.



The kids loved Mario Kart 8 Deluxe stuff at @Target! It was fun to see a bunch of other kids outside enjoying the big Mario and Luigi heads pic.twitter.com/25T15m6P5f

— NintendoSwitchCouple (@nintendocouple) April 22, 2017



Hanging out with Luigi and Mario at @Target Have you guys seen these? So cool @NintendoAmerica #supermario #target pic.twitter.com/KycFkwvfVE

— Misty - Frosted Moms (@frostedevents) April 22, 2017



@TIME @FortuneMagazine Very cute! My girls throw bananas on the floor anyway.

— Monica (@2lilmunchk1ins) April 22, 2017


But not everyone is a fan. Writing for Scary Mommy, Valerie Williams noted that while mothers love Target for its breastfeeding policies, empowering clothing options and more, this latest innovation may not be ideal for all parents. 


“Ugh. So that means if we have our kids with us, they’re going to beg for one of the few Mario Kart carts and then possibly mow people down while we mull over our face wash options?” she wrote. “And that’s assuming we can get one and they aren’t throwing a fit because there are no Princess Peach carts left.”


If you share Williams’ concerns, fear not! The Mario Kart elements are part of a limited-time experience expected to last only a few weeks.


So for everyone else, get your fix while you can.

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Lobbyists Are Using Bad Science To Sneak A Porn Blocker Onto Your Computer

Fri, 04/21/2017 - 11:36


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When Utah passed a resolution last year declaring pornography a public health crisis, critics were dumbfounded that such a deceitful measure could sail through the legislature.


The resolution used laughably bad science and outright lies in an attempt to prove that porn is bad for you. Still, nobody freaked out too much. Surely it was a hollow declaration with no influence on the law. Right?


Wrong. Lobbyists and lawmakers in other states are now using the resolution as proof that potentially unconstitutional pieces of legislation are viable.



The model legislation, called the Human Trafficking Prevention Act, would slap a pornography filter on cell phones, laptops and tablets until users pay a $20 fee. Device manufacturers would be required to put a label on material deemed “obscene” and you’d be blocked from seeing it until you paid what is essentially a tax on porn.  



The American Civil Liberties Union was quick to call this a violation of the First Amendment, saying that pornography is a free speech issue.


“This is definitely an attempt to infringe on people’s rights,” said Vera Eidelman, an attorney at ACLU. She called the model legislation “crazy,” noting that lobbyists would like to have a government-managed list of people who had paid to access porn. 


And yet such measures are making some headway. Chris Sevier ― the mastermind behind the act and an avid anti-gay marriage lobbyist who thinks his past conviction on an assault charge is “fake news” ― has already managed to convince lawmakers in 13 states to draft legislation. 



This is definitely an attempt to infringe on people’s rights.
Vera Eidelman, ACLU attorney


The Human Trafficking Prevention Act has problems at every level.


First of all, it’s based on the same “science” behind Utah’s resolution declaring porn a public health crisis. The Huffington Post has previously reported that the resolution drafted by state Sen. Todd Weiler (R-Salt Lake) is full of complete fabrications and cites poorly executed studies penned by anti-pornography groups, none of which prove a causal relationship between pornography and psychological harm.


But the Human Trafficking Prevention Act relies on the resolution to declare that “it’s a matter of science” that “pornography is really bad.”


That’s not true. The American Association of Sexuality Educators Counselors & Therapists can’t find empirical evidence that sex or porn addiction are mental health issues. The group recommends that therapists and educators don’t tell people that “urges” related to porn are mental problems. Experts acknowledge that pornography triggers reward centers in your brain, but comparing it to alcohol or cigarettes is downright misleading. They say it should be compared to something more like dessert. 


“An addiction has to meet certain requirements ― one of the requirements is that it’s rewarding, and pornography does meet that, as do cake and pictures of babies,” said Dr. Nicole Prause, a sexual psychophysiologist who has more than a decade of research in addiction, sexual desire, erectile dysfunction and sexual problems. “But it fails the addiction requirements in a number of ways, and there’s just no evidence that porn is the same thing as, say, cocaine.”


Yet the flawed characterization of porn as a public health crisis is being used to trick lawmakers. Even the Human Trafficking Prevention Act’s title is misleading because it equates pornography with sex trafficking, and implies that the latter wouldn’t exist without the former.


“It’s scary to frame this as a solution to human trafficking,” Eidelman said. “The only way it relates to human trafficking is the chosen title.”


And what lawmaker is going to stand up for pornography?


“We’re an easy mark,” said Adam Grayson, chief financial officer of porn production company Evil Angel. “But this kind of ridiculous legislation has come before, and it’ll come again. If this passes anywhere, what happens is our trade organization has to go file suit in federal court, and cost taxpayers a bunch of money while that state defends its statute. Basically, we end up where we started, which is that there’s no tax. And you just can’t tax speech.”


Critics say lawmakers are overlooking the constitutionality of the bill and sponsoring it because the porn tax would help fund groups that fight human trafficking and domestic violence.


Republican state Reps. Bill Chumley and Mike Burns co-sponsored the Human Trafficking Prevention Act in South Carolina, and Burns told the Daily Beast that he’s “behind the premise of the bill.” Chumley said he helped introduce the bill because human trafficking is an issue that he’s “really concerned with.” 


It’s unclear whether any of these measures will pass. Wyoming and North Dakota have already shot down the versions that have been introduced to their state legislatures. 


But Sevier has said he plans to introduce the porn tax at the federal level this month. He’s armed with draft legislation in states across the country, a handful of supportive congressmen and the measure that got him here: a state resolution that was passed despite bad science and an air of lies.

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These 3 Women Created An App For All Your Emergency Shape-Up Needs

Thu, 04/20/2017 - 17:11

Balancing school, work and being black can make it difficult to prioritize looking good. But three Howard alumnae and friends are making the efforts involved with being busy, black and well-kempt much simpler with an app providing on-demand barber service to your doorstep. 


The HausCall app provides on-demand barber services to users’ doorsteps. Created by Morgan Winbush, Killian Lewis and Crystal Allen-Washington, the app offers users the ability to book an immediate appointment with a barber of their choosing or schedule one in advance. 


“It’s homecoming at Howard. Every guy we know is trying to feel and look like Diddy,” Winbush, the Chief Marketing Officer told Vibe. “If you’re running or coming into town really late, and you had to go to #1000Bottles or whatever party is happening on Friday night, but you didn’t have enough time [to spare], you could use HausCall and a barber would come wherever you are to cut your hair and make sure you looked great.”


A soft launch of the app will take place in New York and Washington D.C. this June. If all goes well, it’ll be launching in Atlanta next fall. 



#HausCall is an on-demand grooming app launching in Washington, DC June 2017! . . We can only launch with a push from you! We have until Friday to make it to $1,000! Can we do it? Will you help? thehauscall.com/donate

A post shared by thehauscallapp (@thehauscallapp) on Feb 21, 2017 at 7:16pm PST




So not only will these three women be taking home the profits from HausCall, but they also plan on hiring and servicing people of color. It’s brilliant. It’s bougie. The group even told Blavity they also have intend to employ those who were formerly incarcerated and are struggling to find jobs. 

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New App Offers Ingenious Option For Guys Who Are Too Shy To Send Dick Pics

Thu, 04/20/2017 - 09:15

Sex Heroes is an ongoing HuffPost Q&A series by Voices Editorial Director Noah Michelson that explores the lives and experiences of individuals who are challenging, and thereby changing, mainstream culture’s understanding of sex and sexuality. 


In our modern age of online dating and internet hook ups, dick pics, for better or for worse, have become a kind of digital currency ― especially for gay men. Hop on Grindr or Scruff or any other web app designed to connect men looking for love ― or just someone to get off with ― and it won’t be long before you’re asked to show exactly what you’re packing.


For some, sharing explicit images isn’t a big deal. But for those who are worried about privacy and want to avoid having their nether bits distributed to anyone ― or everyone ― on the internet, dick pics have been seen as a total no-go.


Gyorgy Szucs, the 28-year-old gay CEO and founder of design and code company Creative Robot, wants to help eradicate dick pic stigma while promoting sex and body positivity and what he refers to as “kinkiness.” He’s developed a new app, called Dick Code, that lets users choose from a number of illustrations that most closely match their genitals and then generates a “code” that they can send to whomever they choose without fearing that move might eventually come back to haunt them.



Dick Code asks each user to select from a variety of physical penis characteristics ― from size and girth to hairiness and curvature ― in order to create an intimate profile of their member that is as representative as possible. Dick Codes also offers additional information that a dick pic can’t, like the trajectory and pattern of the individual’s ejaculate.


“I started by drawing many dicks as a practice,” Szucs told me in an email. “First I started with the obvious categories, like size and circumference and then I went on to the ‘dirty’ stuff and added everything that my mind could think of absolutely shamelessly.”


Szucs, who is originally from Hungary but currently resides in Santiago, Chile, also shared with me where the inspiration for Dick Code originally came from, his thoughts on the politics of dick pics (especially involving straight men sending unwanted images to women), his upcoming plans for Vagina Code and Sex Code apps and more.


The Huffington Post: Where did the idea for Dick Code come from? Was there a specific “a ha!” moment of inspiration?
Gyorgy Szucs: I received a picture from a friend with drawn penises where you could choose the right one for you. I felt it was incomplete and too complicated to communicate the result. I immediately thought it could be a great web app, especially if I put my kinkiness in it as well.



Do you intend for people to really use it when communicating with others online? Or is it more of an art or conversation piece?
I wanted a simple, handy tool that enables people to communicate more about their sexual features. I focused on the parts we tend to be shy about, so I intentionally didn’t give descriptions. I’m a very rational person, so I don’t feel like it’s an art piece ― I just want to help people and bring out their kink.


Dick pics are controversial and can be problematic because they are often sent to people who don’t want them ― especially by straight men to straight women. What are your personal thoughts about the politics of dick pics?
It depends. I believe if you receive a dick pic you didn’t ask for, most likely that means the owner of it has an ugly face and/or personality. But if you’re already in a conversation with someone online looking for a hookup, and passed the mental check, I see no problem in exchanging hot pics. Now you can exchange dick codes too.



Do you think that dick pics work differently among gay men versus non-gay people? How do you think women feel about this and do you think straight men would use Dick Code?
Let me tell you ― [by looking at Google analytics I learned that] 40 percent of the 1 million visitors I had in four days were women. I thought it would be a gay thing only, but I think now I’ll have to interview straight women too to see what’s going on. Based on the feedback so far, I believe that girls use it to describe their favorite dick. Straight guys don’t really use it, in fact they are mostly disgusted by this, but maybe they will soon be asked by their next date to share their dick code. No escape.


What has the response been? What are people saying?
I’m having such fun days. I’m receiving like 50 messages a day about how ingenious the idea is, how easy it became for shy people to be more kinky. They are laughing a lot while still sharing features they never talked about before. And the most amazing part is that people who created and shared their dick code tell me how surprisingly positive the responses are. They believed that their dick was not impressive as it is not “big,” but they had now come to the realization that people (women especially) are kinky deep inside and find certain aspects of a dick impressive, other than just the size.


And of course, girls keep asking for the V[agina] Code. I’m already working on that, I just need lots of help as I’m not experienced in that area.



Are there other “codes” in the works and when will they roll out?
Vagina Code and Sex Code. The latter will be basically about sex positions and games. Kinky games. I believe the V Code will come in the following few weeks, and the Sex Code after that. I’ll update the Dick Code page with details.


I’m absolutely shocked by the fact how many women use the Dick Code. I think the V code will be fun for straight guys mostly, but I guess the Sex Code will turn into the next “50 Shades of Grey.”


What do you ultimately want people to take away from this project?
I believe it is a fun tool to bring out your kinkiness in a very safe way and share it with your partner. It’s easy to tap innocent drawn images about dirty stuff. It is definitely not just a gay thing. People tell me and now I believe that I started something big, something that might reform online dating and the way we talk about sex. I’ll keep adding ways to it. I hope that dating sites will realize the value and maybe add a field in people’s profile for D, V and Sex Codes.


You can visit Dick Code here. For more from Szucs, visit his Instagram page.


Is there a sex hero you think deserves to be covered on The Huffington Post? Send an email to Noah Michelson.


This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

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Lawsuit Alleges Bose Tracks What Wireless Headphone Customers Listen To

Thu, 04/20/2017 - 08:26

By Jonathan Stempel


April 19 (Reuters) - Bose Corp spies on its wireless headphone customers by using an app that tracks the music, podcasts and other audio they listen to, and violates their privacy rights by selling the information without permission, a lawsuit charged.


The complaint filed on Tuesday by Kyle Zak in federal court in Chicago seeks an injunction to stopBose’s “wholesale disregard” for the privacy of customers who download its free Bose Connect app from Apple Inc or Google Play stores to their smartphones.


“People should be uncomfortable with it,” Christopher Dore, a lawyer representing Zak, said in an interview. “People put headphones on their head because they think it’s private, but they can be giving out information they don’t want to share.”


Bose did not respond on Wednesday to requests for comment on the proposed class action case. The Framingham, Massachusetts-based company has said annual sales top $3.5 billion.


Zak’s lawsuit was the latest to accuse companies of trying to boost profit by quietly amassing customer information, and then selling it or using it to solicit more business.


After paying $350 for his QuietComfort 35 headphones, Zak said he took Bose’s suggestion to “get the most out of your headphones” by downloading its app, and providing his name, email address and headphone serial number in the process.


But the Illinois resident said he was surprised to learn that Bose sent “all available media information” from his smartphone to third parties such as Segment.io, whose website promises to collect customer data and “send it anywhere.”


Audio choices offer “an incredible amount of insight” into customers’ personalities, behavior, politics and religious views, citing as an example that a person who listens to Muslim prayers might “very likely” be a Muslim, the complaint said.


“Defendants’ conduct demonstrates a wholesale disregard for consumer privacy rights,” the complaint said.


Zak is seeking millions of dollars of damages for buyers of headphones and speakers, including QuietComfort 35, QuietControl 30, SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II, SoundLink Color II, SoundSport Wireless and SoundSport Pulse Wireless.


He also wants a halt to the data collection, which he said violates the federal Wiretap Act and Illinois laws against eavesdropping and consumer fraud.


Dore, a partner at Edelson PC, said customers do not see the Bose app’s user service and privacy agreements when signing up, and the privacy agreement says nothing about data collection.


Edelson specializes in suing technology companies over alleged privacy violations.


The case is Zak v Bose Corp, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, No. 17-02928. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by David Gregorio)

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What Will Bill O'Reilly Do Next? Twitter Has A Field Day Guessing.

Wed, 04/19/2017 - 22:53


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McDonald’s? Laundromat? Cleaning toilets? CNN?


Twitter users seem to think ousted Fox News host Bill O’Reilly has plenty of options for a new job. But most of them aren’t exactly the kind of gigs he’d want. 


While plenty of people think O’Reilly might land in the White House of his friend and backer, President Donald Trump, others have less glamorous positions in mind for the fresh out-of-work “O’Reilly Factor” host. 


Here’s a sampling: 



Looks like the only job Bill O'Reilly will be able to get now is PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

— billy eichner (@billyeichner) April 20, 2017



Bill O'Reilly's next job likely wont have a no spin zone. pic.twitter.com/Kj78hyDemA

— Jeremy Newberger (@jeremynewberger) April 18, 2017



If Bill O'Reilly's next job is at the White House the prophecy will be complete... and I'm not done building the ark yet.

— Christopher Catalano (@lotterydude) April 19, 2017



So when does Bill O'Reilly start his new job @CNN ?

— Jennifer Blackman (@jennym412) April 19, 2017



Great question by @benberkowick - what are the odds O'Reilly's next gig is at Russia Today?

— Jim Arkedis (@JimArkedis) April 19, 2017



Bill O'Reilly's next book... "The No Job Zone". #BillOReilly

— Sp3cul8r (@sp3cul8r) April 19, 2017



@Amy_Siskind O'Reilly's next job should be scrubbing toilets with a toothbrush in jail

— Dawn (@DawnWatland) April 20, 2017



Breaking News: Bill O'Reilly offered new job selling wigs. pic.twitter.com/vNAVPMtGJ7

— S⃣k⃣o⃣t⃣t⃣f⃣r⃣i⃣i⃣ (@Skottfrii1) April 20, 2017



Bill O'Reilly is now advocating to start minimum wage at $15/hr since his next job will be at McDonald's.

— [anthony]. (@VARiANTdash) April 19, 2017



Bill O'Reilly's next gig will be running a pizza parlor, where he will sell No-Spin Calzones.

— Anthony Wright (@aewright) April 19, 2017



Wishing Bill O'Reilly good luck in his new gig as regional manager of a NJ Hooters.

— Casey Rand (@CaseyRand) April 19, 2017



@peggyrossmanith Look for Bill O'Reilly working at his new job at an O'Reilly Auto Parts next week. O O O O'Reilly! Auto PARTS!

— Jeff Waters (@justcuddle) April 20, 2017



@ItIzBiz Bill O'Reilly has a new job he will be handing out Tic Tacs at Mar-a-Lago pic.twitter.com/3lULibKTzx

— Kevin (@Kevinjeepers) April 19, 2017



I'm sure O'REILLY will find a job in the Trump administration, perhaps as Director of Women's Affairs.

— Mike Drescher (@mdresch2) April 20, 2017



O'Reilly's next gig

— US Dept of Irony (@IronyDept) April 19, 2017



bill o'reilly's new gig will be slinging falafel on 49th street

— jake (@jakebeckman) April 19, 2017



Congrats to Bill O'Reilly for his new gig at InfoWars.

— Cal Classic. (@TheSmokingPun) April 19, 2017



@TeaPainUSA O'reilly's next gig should be snake pit cleaner at a snake handling church. "Aw he bit u again, Bill, u must've had an impure thought."

— Bread&Roses.MN (@coehren) April 18, 2017



Evening #coffee ponder: What will O'Reilly's job title be in the Trump administration?

— Beth, your neighbor (@fromaway2ME) April 20, 2017



Looks like Bill O'Reilly has a new gig lined up already... pic.twitter.com/1W6EQpQRva

— ❄️Horace Santry (@winwinging) April 19, 2017



Hey "Bill O'Reilly" I heard you were looking for a new job so I thought I'd help. #BuildTheWall @oreillyfactor They are looking for labor!

— Josh (@Venti_Poet) April 19, 2017



Good news/Bad news for Bill O'Reilly. He is out at Fox News, but he has a new job as head of H.R. for Uber.

— David Fekke (@davidfekke) April 19, 2017



What will Bill O'Reilly's next job be?

— Carl (@dexter111344) April 20, 2017



Bill O'Reilly @oreillyfactor enjoy your new job. pic.twitter.com/Z2kmPUtCmL

— (@quitfeenin) April 19, 2017


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Fridge-Sized Device That Grows Pot May Be Greatest Appliance Since The Microwave

Wed, 04/19/2017 - 18:28


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A Los Angeles entrepreneur could make a lot of green with his new invention: A refrigerator-sized device that grows pot.


Yoni Ofir says his Leaf machine is made for people who have no clue how to cultivate marijuana.


“We wanted to create something that could be ‘plug and plant,’ where you didn’t have to have any previous knowledge whatsoever,” Ofir says in the video above. “Most people fail because there’s so many different parameters and you’re basically sort of left on your own.”


The problem with growing the wacky weed is that it’s sensitive.


“It’s very prone to different deficiencies in the nutrients, it’s very prone to different temperature and humidity changes,” Ofir says. “You can easily get pests if you don’t control it properly.”


The Leaf machine includes everything needed to grow a seedling into dried cannabis. It takes care of such basics as light, water and nutrients.


Ofir says he created the $3,000 machine after discovering firsthand how time consuming growing marijuana can be.


“I needed to be around the plants every single day, I couldn’t leave them at all,” he says. “I was always worried if something would happen and I wouldn’t be there.”


The Leaf machine solves that with an app that allows the owner to view their growing plants via the internet, as well as controlling things like temperature and humidity from a remote location.


Oh, you don’t have to grow weed with the Leaf. It will grow vegetables as well, but a lot of people may not want to spend that much green to grow cherry tomatoes.


Although the Leaf could make growing marijuana as easy as microwaving popcorn, getting one is more of a challenge. It can only be purchased with a medical marijuana prescription in states where medicinal use is legal.

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I Still Have So Many Questions About This Juicero Thing!

Wed, 04/19/2017 - 17:06

Juicero is a start-up company that apparently wanted very much to disrupt the “juice space.” And in pursuit of that goal, its executives managed to convince Silicon Valley investors to pony up $120 million in seed money, which has led to the production of a $400 machine that squeezes bags of juice. But Bloomberg Technology reporters Ellen Huet and Olivia Zaleski zeroed in on an interesting fact behind all of Juicero’s hooplah: Apparently, bags of juice can be squeezed by an existing product called “the hand,” which in most instances retails for “free” and nearly just as often includes a “buy one, get one” option.


And “hands” apparently squeeze these bags of juice just as well as Juicero machines. Check it out:





And thus, Huet and Zaleski have answered an important inquiry: “Do you need a $400 juicer?” The answer is no. But having read their story, I still have so many questions! Let’s go through Bloomberg’s story and you’ll see what I mean.



One of the most lavishly funded gadget startups in Silicon Valley last year was Juicero Inc. It makes a juice machine. The product was an unlikely pick for top technology investors, but they were drawn to the idea of an internet-connected device that transforms single-serving packets of chopped fruits and vegetables into a refreshing and healthy beverage.



Why does your juicer need to be “internet-connected?” 



Doug Evans, the company’s founder, would compare himself with Steve Jobs in his pursuit of juicing perfection. He declared that his juice press wields four tons of force—“enough to lift two Teslas,” he said.



Why does anyone need that much force to squeeze juice? I mean, you’d think that a machine that could lift just one Tesla would do the trick. “Not good enough,” Evans told his engineers, “I need that second Tesla’s worth of Newtons.” Maybe the original goal was to build a Two-Tesla Lifting Machine, and initial market research revealed scant demand for such a thing?



A person close to the company said Juicero is aware the packs can be squeezed by hand but that most people would prefer to use the machine because the process is more consistent and less messy.



Is it though? Here’s how I get juice. Open fridge, get juice, pour into glass, voila! I find it hard to believe that people “would prefer to use the machine.” (Also: “A person close to the company?” That person, close to the company, should have leveled with the company, saying something like, “I dunno, guys, a $400 bag squeezer? [Sound of sharp intake of breath.]”



The device also reads a QR code printed on the back of each produce pack and checks the source against an online database to ensure the contents haven’t expired or been recalled, the person said. The expiration date is also printed on the pack.



Whyyyyyyyyyyy?



The creator of Juicero is something of a luminary in the world of juicing.



People can be that?



Evans, 50, follows a diet of mostly raw, vegan foods. Technology was a new thing for him, but he picked it up quickly.



Did he, though?



In fundraising meetings, Evans promised a revolutionary machine capable of squeezing large chunks of fruits and vegetables, said two people who agreed to invest in the company. Evans secured funding in 2014 by showing 3D-printed renderings of the product without a working prototype, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they signed nondisclosure agreements.



Did they also ask to not be identified because they look so foolish?



But after the product’s introduction last year, at least two Juicero investors were taken aback after finding the packs could be squeezed by hand.



Wait. They didn’t know that bags full of juice could be squeezed by hand? 






Doug Chertok, a Juicero investor, said he figured it out on his own. “There is no doubt the packs can be squeezed without the machine,” he said. “I’m still a huge fan.”



Bu-bu-but ... how are you still a fan? Didn’t they basically take your money and set it on fire? 



He said the company is a “platform” for a new model of food delivery, where fresh fruits and veggies are delivered regularly to the home.



Should I be the one to break it to this guy that these kinds of services have existed for many years?



“Juicero is still figuring out its sweet spot,” he said. “I have no doubt that they’ll be very successful.”



Someone just needs to build a bigger machine with the lifting force of seven Teslas to help find this sweet spot, no doubt. But what really went wrong here?



“It’s very difficult to differentiate yourself in the food and beverage sector,” said Kurt Jetta, who runs retail and consumer data firm Tabs Analytics. “Entrepreneurs may be tempted to have a technology angle when it’s not really there.”



And there it is.







~~~~~




Jason Linkins edits “Eat The Press” for The Huffington Post and co-hosts the HuffPost Politics podcast “So, That Happened.” Subscribe here, and listen to the latest episode below.  





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The $400 Juicero Juicer Is The Funniest Silicon Valley Fail In Forever

Wed, 04/19/2017 - 15:55


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Silicon Valley’s latest investor darling, a $400 juice machine, does essentially the same thing as human hands ― and Twitter users are squeezing the situation for every drop of sarcasm it’s worth.


Juicero is a juicing machine and service that secured about $120 million in funding from the likes of Google and other venture capitalists before it rolled out to 17 states this week. The pricey machine is built to squeeze the subscription-only Juicero bags of fruit and veggies, which it cold-presses using four tons of force. Some have called the machine a Keurig for juice.


But there’s one teeny problem: It turns out you don’t need the machine. Bloomberg reports that recently, “some investors were surprised to discover a much cheaper alternative: You can squeeze the Juicero bags with your bare hands.” Hand-squeezing the bags for 90 seconds, they found, rendered almost as much juice as using the $400 machine for two minutes.


Naturally, Twitter just can’t take the fail. 



Juicero should have seen this coming. I've been eating Keurig pods for a year.

— Volcel Proust (@Ugarles) April 19, 2017



@danprimack juicero is proof that VCs just use dart boards. While drunk.

— Ken Goldsholl (@KenGoldsholl) April 19, 2017



So juicero is just caprisun for yuppies

— Michael Zhao (@mhzhao) April 19, 2017



Concept art from today's Juicero R&D meeting pic.twitter.com/vGqWkKhQCH

— Brian Kelly (@bpkelly89) April 19, 2017



"Juicero" sounds like a bad Shakespeare character.

— Knarf Black (@knarfblack) April 19, 2017



I found a faster way to get juice than the Juicero machine. Buy a bottle of juice, pour into cup.

— Greg McGregorson (@MrCleanCut_) April 19, 2017



I'm so confused that anybody ever thought that a Juicero was a useful thing to buy.

— Dennis DiClaudio (@dennisdiclaudio) April 19, 2017



hey guys. the next time someone says silicon valley is going to solve hunger or climate change or take us to mars, remember the Juicero.

— jesse farrar (@BronzeHammer) April 19, 2017


It is worth noting that making juice with cold-press machines like Juicero retains more of the fruit and veg’s nutrients than cheaper methods like squeezing juice by hand or using a traditional juicer. So while Juicero is pricey and unnecessary, even for the brand’s own “produce packs,” it may be worthwhile if you’re looking to maximize every drop


Then again, eating a piece of fruit is pretty healthy, too. 

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Former Apple Engineer Describes Domestic Abuse In Chilling Courtroom Statement

Tue, 04/18/2017 - 18:02

A Silicon Valley woman who allegedly suffered a decade of physical abuse at the hands of her CEO husband has offered up a heartbreaking account of her experience.


In a victim impact statement read aloud in court last week, Neha Rastogi, a former engineer for Apple and Cisco, described what she said was a nightmare marriage to Abhishek Gattani, CEO of the Silicon Valley startup Cuberon.


“He hit me, multiple times during each incident on my face, arms, head, belly, pulled my hair and abused me and called me a bitch, whore, slut, bastard and much more in my language,” she wrote. She accused Gattani of beating her while she was pregnant and forcing her to stand for long periods of time as a form of punishment.


As The Daily Beast originally reported, Gattani was arrested twice for assaulting his wife ― once in 2013 and again in 2016 ― and is awaiting sentencing for the most recent incident. He pleaded no contest to offensive touching and felony accessory after the fact, and under a pending plea deal offered to him by prosecutors, he would only spend 30 days behind bars. A judge is expected to formally sentence him next month.


Experts say the short sentence offered to Gattani is not surprising. Lenient sentences are given all the time to domestic abusers, especially in cases where the victim does not have severe, life-threatening injuries. But with her statement, Rastogi has pinpointed the frustrations so many domestic violence victims have with the system.


“What’s the point of me speaking up now?” she said to the courtroom. “I get heard to be ignored? To be told that the system understands the abuse and the impact it has had on our child and me, but sorry ― it is what it is?”


Rastogi’s four-page victim impact statement describes the effects of her husband’s abuse, and her ongoing disappointment with the criminal justice system’s lack of substantial response to her plight. She said she feels she’s been “effectively silenced” twice ― first by her husband and then again by the system meant to protect her.


By coincidence, the courthouse in Santa Clara, California, where Rastogi spoke is the same one where Brock Turner was sentenced to six months in jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman. His victim’s poignant impact statement went viral and led to national outrage over lenient sexual assault sentencing.


Kim Gandy, CEO of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, said she hoped Rastogi’s statement would have the same impact.   


“She described a decade of physical, verbal, emotional, and financial abuse that would outrage the hardest heart, but would not surprise those of us working in the domestic violence field,” Gandy said. “The minuscule sentence, the judge and prosecutor’s preoccupation with the abuser’s work and status, and the disregard for the safety of this victim whose life has been clearly and repeatedly threatened, reflect a denial of reality and a deep disregard for women’s lives.”


Ruth Glenn, executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, wondered if Gattani’s considerable social status may have played a role in the sentencing.


“We also see quite frequently that money, power and privilege in our society is a free ticket for less accountability,” she said. “More than a few instances of high-profile domestic violence perpetrators have received lighter sentences than their less-than-high-profile counterparts.”


Maureen Curtis, vice president for Safe Horizon’s criminal justice and court programs, said the criminal justice system is designed to respond to specific incidents of physical violence, not patterns of abusive behavior. The focus on eruptions of physical violence can miss the bigger picture of the terror present inside a home, she explained. 


She pointed to the concept of coercive control, a pattern of verbal and psychological maltreatment that abusers use to dominate their partners. Many elements of coercive control, such as “isolating a victim, obsessive behavior, harassing or threatening, [and] threatening to take the children, is often not criminal behavior in most, if not all states,” Curtis said. “It does the most damage, and is the most terrifying, to victims and children who live in those homes.”


Rastogi, for her part, characterized the abuse she suffered as “terrorism.” 


“That’s how I felt ― terrorized and controlled, held hostage by the fear of pain, humiliation and assault on my being and my daughter’s,” she said in her statement last week.


She said Gattani encouraged her to commit suicide and threatened to kill her. He blamed her for feeling scared and unsafe with him, she said, and called her mental state a “self-inflicted depression.” Experts call this type of abuse “gaslighting,” a psychological tactic that causes victims to doubt their feelings and question their own sanity.


Rastogi said she is speaking out because she believes her husband will abuse other people unless he receives appropriate punishment. 


Anger management classes can’t help a man “who doesn’t think he did anything wrong when he HIT and ABUSED others to control them, once someone escapes their guilt the only thing that stops them is serious consequences ― which is a rightful conviction,” she wrote. “I can almost confirm he will do the same again.”


Gattani is expected back in court on May 18 for sentencing.

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