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[No. 037] Man, Do I Love Asparagus Water

 

Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2015

  • Mmmmm… I love over-priced liquids. Next purchase, for sure. Whole Foods tried to pass off 3 asparagus stalks in a jar of water for $6. They’ve since removed them from the one store they were at, and they’ve apologized, saying it was a mistake. I think that’s B.S. I think they knew what the heck they were doing. Asparagus water is my new favorite thing in the world. Especially at $6. I vote they bring it back and mass market it.

  • Are you a woman? Does your office feel extra cold, forcing you to wrap yourself in a blanket while it appears the men would be just as comfortable in shorts? Welp, many offices set temperatures based on a decades-old formula that uses the metabolic rate of men. Systematic gender bias knows no bounds... or temperatures.

  • Kraft had to issue a cheese slice recall, after people choked on the plastic wrapping. GOOD RIDDANCE.

  • A pretty solid fan-made 2015 Michigan football hype video. Worth it for the last three shots, alone.

  • So this is awkward. A production company faked an immigrant Instagram account that depicted a journey from Senegal to Spain, and people and media bought it. Turns out, it was a director’s attempt to call out western frivolity and selfie culture.

  • Alright! Today’s newsletter includes a look at an upcoming feature of iOS9 (your iPhone will have apps to block ads on the web!), Uber (more pretty shady and/or misleading things from the biggest and also baddest ride company out there), Google+ is going to fail (LOL!), Jono McCleery will probably drop a great album (my childhood Anglophilia apparently stuck around), and more! Leeeeet’s go!

 

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THE LEDE

iPhone App Developers Prepare to Offer You a Web without Ads [MIT Technology Review]
 

I finally installed AdBlock for Chrome a few weeks back, and I totally forgot that I installed it - which is exactly the point. It’s incredible how it just cuts out ads across the web. Somewhat paradoxically, I’m in advertising and loathe OLA (online advertising). But I used to figure I should be aware of it wherever I go, just to see what it looks like. Know what? Nah. AdBlock is the truth.

 

Pretty soon, Apple’s iOS 9 is going to let you experience the mobile web just like you can with extensions like AdBlock. Well, they haven’t publicly said that, but iOS is adding support for apps that filter content in Safari. It’s not hard to deduce that ad blocking could be one use, and there are developers already working on apps that do just that. By contrast, Google is basically an advertising company, so it currently (and vehemently) bans app blockers from the Google Play/Android app store.

 

For consumers, it could speed up web browsing, cut data bills, and improve battery life. For advertisers and sites dependent upon advertising, the picture may not be so rosy. On one hand, I feel for those sites (especially news sites) that need advertising to survive. On the other, the ads they’re serving up are usually creepy (with retargeting), flat out annoying, or of no interest. Beyond that, the number of trackers that sites employ, to monitor your behavior all over the web, and the amount of time it takes for sites to load, make the whole experience awful and dangerous, given the amount of info that so many different companies have. Doubly so on a mobile device. Web advertising moved towards a race to the bottom, because there is literally an infinite amount of space in which to put an ad.


In the end, I can’t help but to support AdBlock, Apple opening up iOS to “content blocking,” and other similar developments. The ads they block are mostly just shitty. The ads are the problem, and this is one way to address it.

GOOD STUFF

Happy Birthday Copyright Bombshell [Techdirt]

 

In a historical travesty filed under “wait, what the fuck,” the “Happy Birthday” song is suposedly copyrighted, rather than in the public domain. Warner/Chappell Music (the label who claims to own the copyright) has been in a court battle with “Good Morning to You Productions,” who are making a documentary about the song and arguing that the song is in the public domain.


In a wonderful twist, Warner/Chappell claim to have only just now “found” a whole bunch of documents related to the case that it should have handed over in the discovery phase of the case - all this just weeks before the court was likely to have ruled on the matter. The new documents contain evidence that there is no copyright, and that the song may have been put into the public domain in 1922. The whole Techdirt album is worth a read.

LONG READS

Uber’s Phantom Cabs [Motherboard]

 

Have you ever opened up Uber and seen its map show numerous vehicles nearby your location, only for Uber to give you a 10 or 15+ minute wait? Well, those little black cars on the map don’t represent actual vehicles. Uber’s response, after being probed about the issue, has ranged from answers like “it’s only a screensaver to show to show that there are vehicles somewhat nearby” to “there’s a lag in system that causes the number of cars to be misrepresented” to “it has to do with zooming in and zooming out.” Some people (and I miiiiiiight fall into this category, given my distaste for Uber’s shitty business practices) think that it’s actually Uber purposely misrepresenting how many vehicles are on the road, so that you’re not inclined to use another service or call up a taxi.

 

Motherboard’s article details the real-time data challenge, the experience that drivers have with the service/app (there’s an Uber app for drivers and a separate Uber app for passengers like you and me), and a look into surge pricing. A good read that basically sums up some of the visual representation problems as, potentially, Uber leveraging more control over passengers and drivers. Jerks.

 

Inside the failure of Google+, a very expensive attempt to unseat Google [Mashable]

 

First, I hate Mashable, but this is a very well done article. So there. Second (and this is a prediction that a lot of people have), I think Google will buy Twitter, especially if Twitter keeps floundering in eyes of its investors. BUT…

 

Even if you don’t use Google+ or don’t really care about social media, Google+ has likely impacted your internet experience. That’s because Google made you tie your Google account you used across its services (Gmail, YouTube, etc) to your Google+ account, something for which YouTube and internet users across the globe are still bitter about. People didn’t (and don’t) typically want a public, Google+ account tied to their mostly private history.

 

Google is now, finally, allowing you to separate your Google+ identity from your primary Google account. With some other changes they announced last week, it’s become clear that Google+ is pivoting towards something more like a Pinterest lookalike, with more emphasis on photos.


Mashable’s deep dive into the history and failing of Google+ is a great read, though, on the heels of Google’s first, big public admission that their social network is a bust.

MUSIC

Album: Maribou State - Portraits [Current Records, 2015/Spotify]

Just got hip to this British electronic duo, and their debut album Portraits is a super awesome listen. Some house vibes, sometimes with real piano and live drums, but general groovy keys and chill rhythms for the whole of it, and a recommended listen.

 

Song: Lauryn Hill - “Feelin Good” [Live, Jimmy Fallon]

Lauryn Hill covers Nina Simone and… damn. It’s a great song until halfway through, when Lauryn and her massive band just start to fucking cook. Also a reminder to watch the new-ish Netflix original documentary What Happened, Miss Simone?

 

Playlist: [Greg’s Playlist - August 2015] [Spotify]

A new month, a new playlist. This one kicks off with a whole bunch of U.K. artists, because, yeah. Singer/songwriter Jono McCleery will soon drop his third studio album, and I have a feeling it’s going to be on point. The lead track from that kicks things off. A few Maribou State tracks follow, as does a super awesome instrumental by Floating Points. Dig in!
Copyright © 2015 Greg's Newsletter, All rights reserved.


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