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Losing It: Never Leave Items Behind Again

Have you ever forgotten your keys? Ever worried about where your luggage went when you checked it through the airline?

Mu Tag is a Kickstarter-turned-product that’ prepared to change the way we find lost items. It’s pretty simple. Attach a $25 Mu Tag to any item and it will track the item with a tiny GPS sensor. Then connect the tag to your phone and give the tag a name for the item. Then you can track that item anywhere, anytime. The battery on each Mu Tag lasts three months.

The world’s smallest consumer tracking device should prove to be an unforgettable new offer in tech, and for lost luggage.

What do you think? Worth the $25?

CARLOS-BARRIA/REUTERS

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised – It Will Be On Facetime

Unless you were living under a rock, you will recall the foiled coup d’état attempt in Turkey. The Turkish military attempted to seize control while President Tayyip Erdogan was vacationing on July 15, 2016. The President took to Facetime to encourage the populace to take to the streets in support of the elected government. Now if you are well versed in Turkish history, you will remember that military coups are not uncommon. The military intervened in 1960, 1971, and 1980. In 1997, the Turkish military executed a “post-modern coup”. The military – the secular defenders of the constitution – has initiated coups to restore order and to protect the secular nature of the republic created by Ataturk.

SEDAT SUNA / EPA
SEDAT SUNA / EPA

This is one of the reasons why many find this attempted coup so suspicious. The Turkish government continues to point the figure at Erdogan’s longtime rival, an Islamic Cleric living in Pennsylvania. Yet, accusations that the secular military would support radical aspirations to overthrow the government seem unfounded giving its institutional history. Furthermore, the hasty and unplanned execution of the coup which failed to lockdown national media, the presidential palace, and transportation centers seems out of character for a military which successfully orchestrated 3 previous military coups. For this reason, accusations continue to fly of Erdogan’s knowledge and even orchestration of the coup. Now, the President has the opportunity to imprison his opposition, implement centralized control, and even dismantle the military, the one institution threatening his authoritarian ambitions. This also portrays the longtime Islamist Erdogan as the secular defender of the Turkish Republic, creating an ideal scenario where he can maintain his agenda under the guise of defending secular democracy from elements (in the media, military, and education systems) which he feels threaten the will of the people.

Other theories have circulated that Iran is behind Turkey’s instability, as a means to destabilize western relations with their longtime neighbor. Some argue that Iran is simply trying to set pieces in motion to bring about the Islamic Republic of Turkey. While a secular, democratic Turkey with strong ties to the west and NATO may not be in Iran’s best interest; the creation of a Sunni Islamist government in Anatolia could rise to challenge Iranian interest as well. Either way, all the facts regarding the attempted coup remain a mystery.

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The Scene from HBO’s Silicon Valley that Everyone Should be Talking about

Silicon Valley’s (the place, not the show) not-so dirty little secret got its moment under the Hollywood spotlight on this past Sunday’s penultimate episode of Silicon Valley’s (the show, not the place) third season.

Silicon Valley, created by Mike Judge, is perhaps the most honest portrayal of what work and life is like in California’s digital gold mining community.  And if the antics of Richard and team’s Pied Piper start-up company  seem sometimes a little far fetched, the final scene of this episode, titled “Daily Active Users,” represents an all too honest peak behind the curtain.  Audiences are finally brought face to face with human beings in a third world country (think Bangladesh or India) who wake up each day and go to work in a large office filled with dozens if not hundreds of others who do nothing all day but click on ads, download apps, log into sites, and various other tasks that real everyday users of the internet engage in purposefully.

Here is that final scene…

 

However, these people do it simply to get paid on average, the equivalent of $1 a day. Their “work” can be worth millions to their employers and sometimes billions to the tech companies of Silicon Valley like Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, What’s App, etc..  Really, any company that bases its value to investors and potential buy-out suiters on a high DAU count. That’s Daily Active Users to us laymen.  In contrast, a company like Uber may not utilize these click farms because they are providing an actual real world service – connecting people with cars and nowhere to be, to people with no cars and somewhere to be.  So it’s kind of hard to fake actual people getting rides in actual cars.  Although I do admit to a possible future where people, or AI robots, could be paid to book Uber rides around town just to boost their DAU count.

Facebook, for instance, now claims that it has a DAU count of over 1 billion. That’s one billion people everyday, logging into Facebook and engaging.  How many of them are actually using it for its intended purpose of connecting with friends and family, sharing stories, photos and life events? Well considering that over 1 billion of Facebook’s total 1.59 billion user accounts exist outside of Europe and North America, I imagine it is fair to say that a plethora of those accounts are are bogus.  Read this account published by Business Insider three years ago which details some of the fakery behind all those likes, views, and followers that social media giants rely on for their billion dollar evaluations.  Emphasis mine.

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Periscope

Periscope – The New Way to AMA and Connect

As I write this, screenwriter David H. Steinberg (Slackers, American Pie 2) is broadcasting from his own smartphone, answering questions from followers via the app Periscope.

While AMA (ask me anything) sessions are very popular on Reddit for users when someone interesting pops on to answer questions about their career, life or any other topic, it’s limited in that it’s all done via a keyboard. With Periscope, all Steinberg had to do was bring up the app, connected through his twitter, and start broadcasting video and take questions via text on the app from his followers. A tweet went out and notified his fans that he was on and ready to talk screenwriting and the movie business or anything that comes up.

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Joe Haldeman’s ‘The Forever War’ Ready for the Big Screen?

(Warning: Minor spoilers ahead.)

It looks like Warner Brothers has outbid everyone else to bring Joe Haldeman’s classic The Forever War to movie theaters hopefully within a reasonable time-frame.

The Hollywood Reporter notes:

Making the package go supernova was the involvement of Prometheus and Passengers screenwriter Jon Spaihts and producer Roy Lee. Producing with Lee are Tatum and his Free Association execs as well as Film 360.

The package started to heat up last week but went fiery Thursday when Warners, Sony and another studio were all ready to write hefty checks. Warners won the project late afternoon paying low six figures against seven for the movie rights. Spaihts’ deal to write the script topped seven figures.

Haldeman’s 1974 novel offers a perspective on his experience as a Vietnam veteran. In it, humans have discovered how to use collapsars (mini-black holes) to travel instantaneously to other parts of the galaxy and beyond. However, the time spent traveling to various destinations (excluding collapsar-to-collapsar), most especially that at, and around. the black holes, makes our protagonist, William Mandella, a “man out of time” as a member of Earth’s fighting forces via the Elite Conscription Act.

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Big Hero 6 and Green Technology

Big Hero 6 screen shot

I was immediately taken with the movie Big Hero 6 the first time I saw it.  Actually, I was completely on board from the first teaser I saw for the film.  The movie is fun, compelling, beautiful animated, and involves Alan Tudyk. But, it took several viewings for one of the most visually striking elements of San Fransokyo to really register. I’m referring to the brightly painted, floating wind turbines that hover above the city.

It turns out that, like a lot of the technology in the film, these wind turbines are based on science fact, not fiction. These turbines, referred to as BATs for Buoyant Air Turbine, are already in small scale production.  Their use in the film is both obvious, and non-intrusive; a subtle way to start normalizing the idea of renewable energy in our modern, everyday lives.

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A New Vessel for Video on the Web

SmashCut Talk thumbnailLast week the video hosting website Vessel.com opened it’s doors to the world, for $2.99 a month.  It’s a bold move, charging a monthly fee for access to videos that will usually end up on YouTube after 72 hours.  Some of YouTube’s most successful content creators were invited to be a part of this new video venture and provide Vessel viewers exclusive early viewing rights to their latest video on Vessel before anyone else can see them for free on YouTube three days later.

One of those YouTubers, Derek Muller of Veritasium, describes it as paying a premium to see the latest film in theater before it hits DVD and then your television months or years later.  While I understand the comparison, it’s not entirly correct. Vessel is using the same medium as YouTube – my computer or smartphone screen.  So if Vessel wants me to pay $2.99 a month, their “venue” has to exceed YouTube’s much like a movie theater exceeds my living room.  So, after signing up for a 30 day trial I can report back that the player appears to run smoother than YouTube, there are no pop-up annotations, ads you have to X out of, or any of the other annoying distractions you find on YouTube.  In fact, it’s almost exactly like Vimeo – which, last I checked, costs zero a month.  So, I’ll stick it out for the 30 days and have a more detailed report for you then. If you want to check it out yourself, watch Veritasium’s video to find out how to get your 30 day trial.

AngelList: Shark Tank on the Internet

SmashCut Talk thumbnailI stumbled upon AngelList, angel.co,  the other day and was thrilled to see it existed, and since 2013 apparently.  Quite simply, and from their site, AngelList is a platform for startups. That’s it.  A startup company lists their business on the site with a profile page, angel investors can check them out and decide if it’s worth pursuing an investment.  It’s like Shark Tank on the internet.

Big time tech founders of sites such as Yelp, Uber, Twitter, and PayPal to high profile investors such as actor Ashton Kutcher (Uber, AirBnB, Soundcloud) and the real Shark Tank’s own Mark Cuban are among the million plus people who are a part of AngelList.  Investment in these companies can start with just $1000.  So while the minimum amount isn’t Kickstarter type money, unlike that crowdfunding program, when you put your money in a company with a service or product you like on AngelList you become an investor.

Of course, not every start up is going to get past the first turn on the track, but the access you have to learning about these companies, the people behind them and the chance to connect feels like a game changer in our culture.  If anything, it’s a great clearinghouse to discover new products and services from Silicon Valley.

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Homer Simpson Found the Mass of the Higgs Boson Particle 14 Years Before it Was Discovered

A pretty remarkable claim over The Telegraph.

Simon Singh, author of The Simpsons and their Mathematical Secrets, told a literary festival audience that the series is staffed by writers with an interest in maths.

“That equation predicts the mass of the Higgs boson. If you work it out, you get the mass of a Higgs boson that’s only a bit larger than the nano-mass of a Higgs boson actually is.

“It’s kind of amazing as Homer makes this prediction 14 years before it was discovered.”

 

Since I hated math as a subject while forced to learn it in grade school, and having spent a few of my childhood summers making up for sub-standard grades, I’ll have to take his word for it.  It’s also a crazy reminder that not only has The Simpsons been on TV 14 years priors to the actual discovery, it was on when I was in high school impressing my teachers with my style over substance approach to school and that, my friends was a long time ago.

h/t Acculturated