Personalization algorithms are often helpful, but not without fail — buy a gift for a friend on Amazon and suddenly you feel like a stranger in your own account.
Qloo is an iOS app launched in November that believes better recommendations come from being more holistic. You add favorites across eight categories (movies, books, travel destinations, restaurants, etc.), each with subcategories, and the app makes cross-category recommendations. You can't have more than five favorites per subcategory — an attempt to keep the app's data high-quality. Your taste in music will influence your recommendations for brunch, and so on, creating a sort of Frankenstein monster of Foursquare, Netflix, Amazon and more. Read more...
Inflight Wi-Fi provider Gogo has injected itself into the fracas about IAC Senior Director of Corporate Communications Justine Sacco's unfortunate tweet on Friday.
Sacco became the topic of Internet discussion Friday evening after she tweeted, "Going to Africa. Hope I don't get AIDS. Just kidding. I'm white!" Sacco, who was on a plane to Africa as the response to the tweet played out, has not responded though her account has been deleted. Gogo, which provides wireless Internet on flights, used the occasion to highlight its service:
Next time you plan to tweet something stupid before you take off, make sure you are getting on a @Gogo flight! CC: @JustineSacco
Justine Sacco was, until Friday, the top PR person for InterActiveCorp, the New York media conglomerate run by Barry Diller. IAC owns the Daily Beast, Vimeo, About.com, Match.com and Ask.com, among many others. On her now-deactivated Twitter account, Sacco called herself a "troublemaker on the side" known for her "loud laugh." Perhaps it was inevitable that this self-image would clash with her high-rolling position
Because Sacco has made a world of trouble for herself, and as I wrote this, she didn't even know it. Before she got on a plane Friday, a tweet emerged from Sacco's account, a joke of such monumental stupidity that it was hard for many people to believe her account wasn't hacked: Read more...
Think back over the past 12 months. Amazing touchdowns, so many jaw-dropping dunks and that ridiculous Auburn field goal return—that's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the incredible sports plays 2013 has brought us
So how can you watch the 50 greatest all in one place, preferably with a banging soundtrack? Right here, right now:
Crumple-Horned Snorkacks (Fic): • Anonymous at hp_darkarts wrote Always and Forever. Love is patient, love is kind. It is not proud, it is not easily angered. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserves. (Harry Potter/Romilda Vane, NC-17: non-con, other spoiler warnings on fic) • Anonymous at hp_darkarts wrote Like a Moth to Flame. The first Christmas after losing all he held dear, Albus looks back on past events. (Albus Dumbledore/Gellert Grindelwald, PG-13)
So, as mentioned in my last post, I have sort of spent most of this morning on FF.net, reading embarrassingAMAZING competent Lin/Tenzin fic that was more id-satisfying than anything else. (Note to self: when did I stop rejecting ideas just because they were too id-ish and not going to shatter the artistic world into pieces with brilliance? That was a STUPID thing to do.)
Then Bryan Konietzko goes and posts this on his Tumblr:
It's a...peculiar choice, to say the least, considering some of Microsoft's questionable product releases. (Anyone remember the mess that was Windows 8 Tiles?) But President Obama must have had some rationale behind choosing the tech company over others
Users can check out their own Year in Review by clicking on a "See Your 2013 Year in Review" button located below their profile picture. Once a user is at their own Year in Review page, they can click on a button labeled "Your Friends in 2013" to see the top moments from their Facebook friends Read more...
When we think of Hollywood directors like Martin Scorsese, Lars Von Trier or Michael Moore, we think of gritty, violent or soul-crushingly sad movies. Essentially, they are the opposite of what you'd expect from a Christmas movie.
Their clever video acts out scenes directed in the styles of 10 filmmakers, including Scorsese, Von Trier and Moore, as well as Wes Anderson, Steven Spielberg and Woody Allen. The clip pulls inspiration from some of the directors' most iconic movie moments, including the opening scene in Scorsese's The Departed featuring "Gimme Shelter" by The Rolling Stones Read more...
So I started my vacation not quite how I intended to go on: waking up at 5am and reading copious amounts of Lin/Tenzin and Lin/Korra hurt/comfort on FF.net. It was kind of like ids on parade, but it was exactly what I wanted to read, so I can't complain. Plus, I found some Lin/Tenzin where the worst grammatical error was that no one told the author a new speaker's dialogue should start with a capital letter. I can live with that! (Still no Lin/Raiko fic. May have to do it myself. I'M SORRY.)
I was thinking of going wide open with "music," then realized I don't remember if you even like music, so I looked at your interests to see what in the music and dance areas you mentioned, and, "dancing like peter garrett," jumped out at me.
21st - Oils, or alternatively something from Aussie popular music in general
So I'm not a massive Oils fan, because as great as their music is, they kind of peaked around the time that commercial music was banned in my household. And then, when I was at an age to discover them independently, my Dad met Peter Garrett, and they discovered they had a lot in common politically, which troubled me. (Still does, actually.)
On the other hand, I know enough to be outraged when foreigners call them one hit wonders, or when "Beds Are Burning" is reappropriated to be about environmentalism instead of Indigenous land rights. (Yes, songs can be about many things at once. It's just this THING I have!)
Aaaaaaaaaaaand then Garrett went into Parliament, and politics is all about compromise, so it was pretty disappointing.
And there was some ugliness where his department presided over an insulation scheme which ended ... quite badly for several people, and Tony Abbott (*spit*) said he was responsible for people burning to death in their beds, which is kind of a terrible thing to say to a guy whose mother died that way, Garrett unsuccessfully attempting to save her. (See also: "Beds are Burning". It has lots of meanings!)
SPEAKING OF MUSIC THAT I AM FAMILIAR WITH AND ENJOY! That is also Australian!
I've been listening to a lot of pop and hip hop over the last few years! Which makes my inner '90s indie/alternative music wanker self cringe, but that's okay, because that self is kind of a jerk.
Anyway, over at No Award, I have this big, fairly rambly post about Lorde (who is a Kiwi, but will no doubt be adopted by Australia as soon as we think New Zealand won't notice) and Iggy Azalea, whom I find equal parts entertaining and problematic.
Azalea raises a lot of questions, like, is it still Australian hip hop if you're rapping with an American accent? (The Australian country music scene is currently grappling with this very issue as well.) And why does Azalea get all this pre-album buzz -- helped massively by supporting Beyonce this year -- when Dizzy Doolan has but one single song on iTunes? (It's good, though! Kind of underproduced, like, it feels like a demo. But hey, people aren't exactly throwing money at unsigned Aboriginal rappers at all, let alone women.)
The answer to that question is, of course, is that Azalea started out in the US, and why are Australians so obsessed with cracking the American market anyway? Like, Kylie couldn't do it. And the question of what does/doesn't count as Australian art is complex, and also not really where my head is at the moment.
A handful of Australian hip hop recs:
Yung Warriors - "Standing Strong" - what is that video? Aside from being an Awkward Lip Syncing Party? This was an iTunes free single of the week earlier this year, and I don't normally pay attention to those, but there was a lot of Twitter buzz, so I gave it a chance. Which led me to...
Dizzy Doolan - So her only presence on YouTube is her showreel, but that at least highlights her only solo release, "Indigenous Hip Hop".
Starting out with Indigenous hip hop is kind of disingenuous, because Australian hip hop is quite white, and there are problems with "helpful" white people going, "Oh, Aborigines are black! They should totally be rappers!" Yeah, nuh.
The problem with local hip hop is not just that the performers are pretty white, but also there is a lot of racism in the audiences. Apparently there's a fine line between "it's cool to have hip hop in our own accent" and "it's so great to get all the black people out of the genre they pioneered". This is quite weird to me, because most of the big names are vocally anti-racist. I remember reading an interview -- I think with one of the guys from The Herd -- where one performer talks about doing a song about how racist and shitty Australians are, and looking up to realise he had an audience full of white guys wearing "FUCK OFF, WE'RE FULL" T-shirts.
And, of course, the all-white crews are the ones that tend to achieve the most success. WAY TO BE, AUSTRALIA.
Having said that, I think The Herd are great. For example:
The Herd - "2020" - this, for once, has an amazing video as well. And they get many points for forecasting that Rudd would turn out to be as craven and amoral as Howard in the end. It also features a verse by Jane Tyrrell, who more recently collaborated with Herd member Urthboy...
Paris Wells - "Let's Get It Started" - actually the song I would have featured here is "Various Small Fires", but apparently that's not to be had on the YouTubes. Anyway, most of the current female singer-songwriters (as opposed to pop singers) in Australia are talented but booooooooooooooooooooooooring. Or, in Sarah Blasko's case, vocally lazy. Wells breaks that trend by being unpredictable and fun.
Just as with Midnight Oil, it irks me when people call Gotye a one hit wonder. He's been around forever. So:
Gotye - Hearts A Mess - the punctuation of that song title offends me deeply. But it's kind of amazing, if only for the way it's the Sting song that never was.
After years of discussions, the Affordable Care Act — a federal healthcare law we've all come to know as Obamacare — is set to take full effect in less than two weeks. Individuals seeking coverage when the law begins on Jan. 1, however, need to sign up by Monday.
President Barack Obama, at a Friday news conference, said the federal insurance marketplace Healthcare.gov has seen a recent surge in enrollment. The looming deadline is one reason for the bump in enrollment, but another likely cause is that the site's functionality has improved since its disastrous launch on Oct. 1.
China this week became the third nation to land a rover on the Moon, and experts believe the country will follow up with a manned mission to the lunar surface in just a matter of years. The country's rapidly improving program and America's perceived lack of direction could, years from now, lead to a new space race.
The spacecraft Chang'e 3 and its rover, Yutu, are only on the lunar surface to explore. But China's zeal for space is unmatched, and its program is developing fast — to the point that it can be recognized as a space power. Just what that means for the U.S. is up for debate.
Presidents aren’t allowed to admit mistakes in public. So when President Obama was asked during his news conference today what mistake he had committed in the last year, he gave a mushy answer. George W. Bush had trouble with the same question. President Obama answered at greater length than Bush—580 words!—but with the same lack of substance. He talked about his health care website and how lines of communication were blurry and the procurement process wasn’t very good. Those are problems, not mistakes, and certainly not mistakes he made.
During the week, we consume words in snackable, tweetable bites. But on the weekends, we have the time to take a dive into the murkier, lengthier depths of the Internet and expand our attention spans beyond 140 characters. We can brew a cup of coffee and lie back with our iPads, laptops, smartphones and Kindles.
Since you're bound to miss a few things during the daily grind, we present to you, in our weekly installation of Mashable Must Reads, a curated list of can't-miss stories from around the web to read and reflect on. (You can find last week's must reads here.) Read more...
Author Ned Vizzini, who penned the popular young adult novelIt's Kind of a Funny Story, has died at the age of 32, according to reports. His death was ruled a suicide.
A Brooklyn native, Vizzini was known for his frank depiction of teenagers and mental illness. His other titles include Be More Chill and The Other Normals, as well as episodes of the MTV drama Teen Wolf.
The popular iPhone game Dots, which took over people's lives and phones in 2013, has now become a staple in one couple's life. Shawn reached out to the creator of Dots to help propose to his girlfriend, who is a big fan of the colorful mobile game
The Dots team created a special version of the game just for Shawn's girlfriend (now fiancée), Cassie. She began to play, only to realize she wasn't just racking up points — she was about to score a husband
This week, Target confirmed that hackers may have stolen millions of customers' credit and debit card information in a security breach. But the retailer is offering a consolation prize: 10% off if the customers return to shop again this weekend.
Target's CEO issued a formal apology to customers late Friday and tried to smooth things over by announcing the extended discount in stores for customers who come back and shop this weekend.
"We recognize this has been confusing and disruptive during an already busy holiday season," Gregg Steinhaffel, the company's CEO, said in a statement posted on Target's website. "Our guests' trust is our top priority at Target and we are committed to making this right." Read more...
It's one of the most fundamentally undemocratic aspects of American democracy: the state of California, with a record 38 million residents, gets the same representation in the U.S. Senate as Wyoming, which has 570,000 residents. Now one big-time venture capitalist is leading the charge to redress the balance with an eyebrow-raising ballot initiative to split California into six states
"Political representation of California's diverse population and economies has rendered the state nearly ungovernable," reads the proposal by VC Tim Draper, which he is expected to submit to the state's attorney general this weekend for inclusion in the next state ballot, pending signature collection. "The citizens of the state would be better served by six smaller state governments." Read more...
On November 15th, the world was introduced to a more risque and polarizing side of Kmart — its "Show Your Joe" spot (above), lovingly nicknamed "Jingle Balls" on the social web. Some consumers were outraged — calling the ad "offensive" and "filth" — while others found it to be genius and hilarious, deeming it the best ad of the season
Let's look at how Kmart's three recent ads compare based on YouTube performance:
"Ship My Pants" — 20,344,698 views. 93,630 Likes and 3,790 Dislikes: 24.7 Likes for every Dislike.
"Big Gas Savings" — 6,250,945 views. 26,583 Likes and 1,312 Dislikes: 20.2 Likes for every Dislike
"Show Your Joe" — 16,779,213 views. 64,473 Likes and 3,932 Dislikes: 16.4 Likes for every Dislike. Read more...
I was very troubled today to learn about the death of Ned Vizzini. He was a friend and a colleague and a contributor and someone I admired. I don't know if I had ever before met someone who was so genuinely enthusiastic and supportive of people's writing and creativity. He was truly one of the most open-hearted people I have ever known.
He is missed, by both myself and Charles Blackstone. Our only regret is that we didn't have the chance to know him better.
His death is being reported as a suicide, and these things, they tend to spread. The suicidal brain fixates, that is what it does. For people in dark places, and tomorrow is the Solstice, so it's a lot of us: Get yourself safe. I have been where you are, and the only thing is to breathe and keep yourself around until something breaks through. And it does. There are hotlines and your friends love you more than you know. If you feel like you don't have anyone, come find me. You are cared for.
Mashable examined the famous Duck Commander and the company as a whole to see what makes it so unique (you know, besides Uncle Si). Here's what we found
1. It sounds like a real duck.
A hunter at a young age, Robertson created his original Duck Commander call to mimic the actual sound of a duck. After testing other calls on the market, which he claims were made for "world champion-style duck callers" instead of for killing real ducks, Robertson decided to make his own. And thus, a "dynasty" was born Read more...
At an age when some may consider spending more time practicing their golf swing or perfecting their poker face, tech journalist Walt Mossberg is about to embark on what may be his biggest adventure yet. After 22 years as The Wall Street Journal's personal technology columnist, Mossberg penned his last column this week. As of 2014, he will helm a new tech media enterprise with longtime business partner Kara Swisher — one that still does not have a name.
Mossberg, 66, whom I’ve known for years, created one of the industry’s earliest every-person tech columns, a model for many to follow. He covered the dawn of the personal computer, the dawn of the Internet and the dawn of social media. He has received criticism for heaping too much praise on Apple products (he wrote that Apple’s iPad “cracked the code” on the tablet category) and is admired as the first to try some of those very same products. Read more...
Have you heard? Dennis Rodman is back in North Korea! It's hilarious and bizarre, and the Internet at large has had plenty a good laugh over the whole thing in recent days
But a powerful open letter penned by a former prisoner in a North Korean labor camp balances the fatuous lark we all mock on Twitter against the harsh reality of life in Kim Jong-un's secretive dictatorship
The details of the letter, which was published by the Washington Post this week, are sad, grim and unsettling. We'll get into them soon, but first some backstory on Rodman's trip and why it holds such bizarre appeal Read more...