Figure Out the Money, Twitter

Twitter Struggles to Capitalize on Influence and Posts Lackluster Earnings:

Sports fans were glued to it during the Super Bowl. Millions used it to track American election night results. In the morning, the president of the United States sends a daily missive in the form of a tweetstorm.

“You don’t go a day without hearing about Twitter,” Jack Dorsey, the company’s chief executive, said on a conference call with investors Thursday morning.

There is just one problem: For all of its influence, Twitter cannot seem to capitalize on its wide reach.

The company reported disappointing earnings on Thursday, with sales totaling $717 million in the fourth quarter, up only about 1 percent compared with a year ago. That fell far short of analysts’ expectations of $740 million. Twitter lost roughly $167 million over that period, or 23 cents per share, from a loss of about $90 million in the quarter last year.

I don’t understand this.

I value Twitter as communications tool. Twitter has been my go-to app to check on breaking news for years now. In the rare times I turn on network news, I’m guaranteed to see them quoting something someone said on Twitter (these days it’s usually something our Shithead in Chief is whining about).

Jimmy Fallon uses it all time in bits on his show and I think he’s the only person still using hashtags. Jimmy Kimmel has also been using it for years in his hilarious Mean Tweets segment.

Twitter is firmly planted in popular culture.

Figure it out, Twitter. Businesses in much worse positions than you have.

Everything That Is Wrong With Brooklyn

Where To Get The Finest $18 Cup Of Coffee In Brooklyn:

Lest you thought a $10 licorice latte was Peak Brooklyn, the world’s most influential borough will soon boast an $18 cup of coffee.

This costly caffeinated drink comes courtesy of Alpha Dominche, a Utah-based manufacturer of high-end coffee and tea brewing machines. Last Friday, the company opened an Extraction Lab at Industry City in Sunset Park, where on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. visitors can watch baristas operate the extra-fancy machines—which cost $13,900 for two—and sample coffees from across the world.

I understand being into your craft and taking it seriously, but there’s a big difference between artistic craft and just being straight up pretentious.

The ‘Extraction Lab’? Please.

via The Weekend Update on SNL

Million Dollar Fixer-Uppers

The average ‘fixer-upper’ in S.F. is now $920,000:

In San Francisco, homes labeled “fixer-uppers” sold at an average of 15 percent above the list price in 2016, with a median sale price of $920,000, according to a new year-end report from Paragon Real Estate. Though the price is high, it is a substantial discount from the 2016 median sales price of all S.F. single-families: $1,325,000.

Paragon looked at several other “special circumstances” in 2016 home sales, including the median home price for a home wth an elevator ($4,869,000), a view of the Golden Gate Bridge ($2,569,000) and a wine cellar ($3,050,000). It also looked at factors that could lower home prices, including a lack of parking ($1,150,000) and probate sales ($952,500). The only factor that lowered prices more than the “fixer-upper” designation was marketing a home as “tenant-occupied,” which sold at “a big discount” of $838,000, due to tenant protection measures, among other things, according to Paragon.

The real estate market in San Francisco, where I live, has been insane for quite some time now.

Universal Basic Income

Free Cash in Finland. Must Be Jobless.:

Now, the Finnish government is exploring how to change that calculus, initiating an experiment in a form of social welfare: universal basic income. Early next year, the government plans to randomly select roughly 2,000 unemployed people — from white-collar coders to blue-collar construction workers. It will give them benefits automatically, absent bureaucratic hassle and minus penalties for amassing extra income.

The government is eager to see what happens next. Will more people pursue jobs or start businesses? How many will stop working and squander their money on vodka? Will those liberated from the time-sucking entanglements of the unemployment system use their freedom to gain education, setting themselves up for promising new careers? These areas of inquiry extend beyond economic policy, into the realm of human nature.

Like climate change, we’re beginning to understand how robots and artificial intelligence will affect us and our employment on Planet Earth (at least those of us who don’t have their heads buried in the sand).

We can’t just automate every job, lay millions of people off, and expect things to just work themselves out. It may mean universal basic income and it may not, but countermeasures have to be made to ensure we’ll be ok.

And for all those people who say, “Sure, but a computer will never be able to do my job doing [insert your trade].”

Never say never.

Let’s Not Spoil the Character Neighborhood

California Today: Housing Fight Hits San Diego:

The fight for more housing has a new war room in San Diego.

Increasingly, even well-off professionals are finding they can no longer afford to live in the San Diego area. In October, the county’s median home price was the highest in a decade — $507,500 — according to CoreLogic, a data analysis company.

Part of the problem, housing experts say, is simply a shortage of units that is driving demand. As the number of San Diegans has risen, new housing construction has failed to keep pace.

And one reason for the lack of construction? The residents of San Diego.

In many cases, housing proposals fail because residents pressure officials to reject them on the grounds that they would spoil neighborhood character.

Man, we humans are some selfish bastards.

As George Carlin said, NIMBY.

This alt-right shit still boggles my mind.

An Alt-Right Makeover Shrouds the Swastikas:

A small but determined political organization in Detroit began to worry that its official symbol was a bit off-putting. With the group’s central philosophy suddenly finding traction in the daily discourse, appearances mattered.

So in November, as the country’s divisive presidential campaign became ever more jagged, the National Socialist Movement, a leading neo-Nazi group, did away with its swastika. In its stead, the group chose a symbol from a pre-Roman alphabet that was also adopted by the Nazis.

This alt-right shit still boggles my mind.

I didn’t grow up with hate and racism like this in New Jersey and my parents didn’t raise me with racist ideals. When I attended Rutgers, it was at the inner city campus in Newark, NJ. I loved the diversity in Newark and had no problem that white kids were the minority there.

But I digress.

Back to the story:

The movement is also acutely image-conscious, seeing the burning crosses, swastikas and language of yesteryear as impediments to recruitment. Its adherents talk of “getting red-pilled,” a reference to the movie “The Matrix,” in which the protagonist ingests a tablet that melts away artifice to reveal the truth. New, coded slurs have emerged. Fewer pointed hoods, more khaki pants.

I love that the alt-right dislikes burning crosses and swastikas not because they represent hate and racism, but because they impede recruitment efforts.


Mr. Martin, the retired teacher, who attended the conference, also didn’t care for the Nazi-like salutes, calling them “very foolish.” But he suggested that most of those raising their arms were using the salute as “their version of the middle finger” — a defiant gesture “to the media, to the Trump haters, to everybody they feel alienated from.”

Why is the middle finger not sufficient enough of a “fuck you” to the media? Oh right, Mike, because the middle finger isn’t racist enough.

These are truly charming people.

The GIF Survey

Fucking genius survey conducted by the godfather of CSS, Eric Meyer:

The GIF Survey is complete. In just under a week, 1,457 people gave their answers on how they pronounce the acronym, and their perceptions of the rightness of that pronunciation. I thought that, today of all days, it made some sense to share the results of a far less momentous poll.

For those who missed, it, how this survey worked was that the first question was: “How do you pronounce GIF?” To this, the choices were:

  • The obviously correct way
  • The clearly incorrect way

Upon answering this, respondents moved on to a section that asked three optional demographic questions: age, gender, and race/ethnicity, all as open text fields. These had about a 16% skip rate, and about a 4% ‘faithless’ response rate; that is, answers that were clearly jokes, insults, or other explicit refusals to answer the question as intended.

Once the demographic questions were answered or skipped, there was a final question: “How do you pronounce GIF?”, exactly the same as the first question of the survey. Only this time, the options were:

  • Hard G (like “gift”)
  • Soft G (like “gin”)

For both pronunciation questions, the answer order was randomized so as to avoid any first-choice advantage. The demographic questions, being open entries, didn’t have options to randomize.

Spoiler: The obviously correct way to pronounce ‘GIF’ is with a Hard G.

Case closed, softies.

It might make you Limp-G people sleep better at night if you think of yourselves as ‘underdogs’, but deep down, you know you’re wrong.

“No Sleep ‘Til No Hate in Brooklyn”

Rolling Stone: Beastie Boys’ Ad-Rock Speaks Out at NYC Anti-Hate Rally:

The election “felt very personal because … I’m a brown, female immigrant,” says Maria Paz Alegre, a U.S. citizen and New York resident who was born in the Philippines. “It’s been very painful to hear that half the country doesn’t want me here. It doesn’t matter that I do charity work, it doesn’t matter that I’m a teacher – it matters that I don’t look like them.”

She adds that “MCA was always my favorite Beastie Boy. His discussion of violence against women and his regret over misogynistic lyrics in the past always moved me,” she says. “For this park specifically to be defaced since he was [Jewish] was painful.”

Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz expressed a similar sentiment while addressing the crowd Sunday. “We’re all here today because we’re thinking the same thing: Painting swastikas on a children’s playground is a messed-up thing to do,” he said. “And for many of us, it has special meaning, because this park is named for Adam Yauch, who was my friend and bandmate for over 30 years, but he was also someone who taught nonviolence in his music, in his life, to all of us and to me. But this is more about someone in New York City” committing a hate crime in the name of Donald Trump, he noted.

I lived in Manhattan from 2000 to 2012. My younger brother lives in Brooklyn. My father was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Queens. Swastikas on a children’s playground is not a New York City I recognize at all.

For the people who voted for Trump who don’t consider themselves racists, I ask them, “Why do you think Trump attracts the KKK and white supremacists?”

You can’t cherry-pick the qualities you agree with in the candidate you voted for. You have to accept everything about them. If you’re choice for President of The United States was officially endorsed by the KKK, you have to own that.

You’re part of the problem, not the solution.

NYC Bomb Suspect Captured

Ahmad Khan Rahami Is Arrested in Manhattan Bombing

The police on Monday took into custody the man they believed to be behind the bombing in Manhattan over the weekend, according to law enforcement officials.

The dramatic arrest of the man, Ahmad Khan Rahami, came after the police issued a cellphone alert to millions of residents in the area telling them to be on the lookout for the suspect, who was described as “armed and dangerous.”

Mr. Rahami, 28, was identified on surveillance video near the locations of both the bomb that exploded in Chelsea and another device that did not detonate a few blocks away. He was described as a naturalized citizen of Afghan descent who had been living with his family in Elizabeth, N.J.

The cellphone alerts are incredible (and creepy). It’ll be interesting to find out if how much they helped in the capture.

UPDATE: I got my answer:

All around New York City, cellphones blared on Monday morning with the dissonant, but familiar, tone of an emergency alert. But this time, the alert — typically used for weather-related advisories or abducted children — was different.

For what is believed to be the first time, the nation’s Wireless Emergency Alerts system was deployed as an electronic wanted poster, identifying a 28-year-old man wanted in connection with the bombings in Manhattan and New Jersey.

Suddenly, from commuter trains to the sidewalks of Manhattan, millions were enlisted in the manhunt.

The message, probably received by millions, nearly at once, was simple: “WANTED: Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28-yr-old male. See media for pic. Call 9-1-1 if seen.”

Welcome to the future.

Slacky Skype

It looks like Microsoft has some updates coming to Skype:

It was recently reported that Microsoft wanted to buy Slack for $8 billion. Slack, for those unfamiliar, is a messaging app for teams that’s been getting quite popular recently. Now, Microsoft is working on a direct Slack competitor under the Skype brand, according to people familiar with the matter.

Meet Skype Teams.

Skype Teams is going to be Microsoft’s take on messaging apps for teams. Skype Teams will include a lot of similar features which you’ll find on Slack. For example, Skype Teams will allow you to chat in different groups within a team, also known as “channels”. Additionally, users will be able to talk to each other via Direct Messages on Skype Teams.

Now this is the Microsoft of old that I know and love: reacting to what other companies are doing, rather than innovating on their own.

As a longtime user of Skype, it’s hard for me to see how Microsoft has improved it since they bought it in 2011.

Errors, Snap Judgements, and Manufactured Outrage

Last week, on August 26th, Facebook announced they were automating their Trending feature and phasing out the people who previously wrote the descriptions for the trending news items.

Then, earlier this week, things started getting screwy:

First, there were the hilarious mix-ups. Yesterday a video of a dog reacting to seeing its owner for the first time in two years went viral. The top headline, from something called, told people they just had to watch it. And yet the Trending Topics module put the video under the headline Watch Dogs 2 — an upcoming video game about hacking and cybersecurity.

Yesterday, a more serious error occurred: a fake news story about Fox News commentator Megyn Kelly’s supposed secret affinity for Hillary Clinton blew up on Facebook, landing it on top of the Trending list. Not only did the engineers (or algorithms) responsible for Trending fail to realize the story was false — it came from a partisan libertarian source called End the Fed — but Facebook also left it in the Trending module for hours to collect likes and comments. All the while, the company unwittingly gave enormous exposure to a damaging piece of false information.

Oops. Looks like those algorithms need some fine-tuning, right? That’s not how The Verge framed the problem in their headline the above quote is from. Their headline is, “Facebook’s editorial purge has completely backfired”.

Wow. Ok. That’s another way of looking at things, but I think this is part of a bigger problem in our modern world: immediate reactions without contemplation. Online services like Twitter and Facebook have helped expedite and amplify snap decisions. Many people would rather be first and wrong in 140 characters than last and well-read in 800 words.

I think the Facebook Trending bump — and that is all is truly is, a tiny, fucking bump — is something we’re all going to forget about in 4 days when the next thing to get outraged over happens.

This brings me to the other problem in our modern world: manufactured outrage. The term has been around at least since 2012, but I first started hearing it used regularly this year on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast. Right now the big one is Colin Kapernick sitting down during the National Anthem. The correct response to this bullshit is “who gives a fuck?” But news sites and idiots in my Facebook feed are fueling the fire and making this trivial event into a story. It’s not.

You can’t have an informed opinion about something if you don’t have information about that something (see that word “informed” that comes before “opinion”?).

We have an ever-increasing number of world events thrown in our faces every second of every day of every year, but our time is still finite, so we need to be very careful what we choose to focus our attention, time, and energy on.

Has Facebook’s replacement of people with algorithms “completely backfired”? I have no fucking idea, and neither does anyone else. It’s hasn’t even been a week.

Give it some time. I swear everything will be ok.

High Fives

This video made me smile.

It also made me think about how archaic the act of sticking out our hands to summon a vehicle is.

“Grandpa, what’s a taxi cab?”

“Oh they were these yellow automobiles, driven by humans, that would take you where ever you wanted to go in New York and you would get them to pick you up by standing in the road and sticking out your arm to hail one.”

“They didn’t drive themselves and you couldn’t use your neural chip to give it commands?”


“This is not where I saw myself at 27 years old.”

In Back to the Future Part II they led us to believe we’d have flying cars, hoverboards and auto-lacing sneakers by 2015.

Wrong on all counts.

We have people running around looking for imaginary Pokémon. They’re also accomplishing all sorts of other things like the woman who found a dead body behind a Holocaust Memorial in New Hampshire, the 2 California men who fell off the edge of an ocean bluff while playing, or the wonderful criminals that are using the game to rob people.

Welcome to the future.