Archive for ‘Money’

September 12, 2012

Luaka Bop

Luaka Bop is a world music-oriented record label established by David Byrne, former guitarist, singer-songwriter and producer of the art rock-new wave band Talking Heads. It has been a wholly independent label since leaving Universal Music Group’s V2 in 2006. Luaka Bop has been responsible for compilations representing sounds from around the world as well as the release of full length albums, EPs, and singles from individual artists and bands.

‘Brazil Classics’ kicked off the label and a set of seven albums surveying eras and artists ranging from Samba to Tropicália. Ventures into Afro-Peruvian and AfroPean musics unearthed the talents of Susana Baca and Zap Mama, respectively. ‘World Psychedelic Classics’ is made up of three albums and includes artists such as Shuggie Otis, Os Mutantes, as well as West African artists of the late 1960s. Additionally, the label has released ‘Cuba’ and ‘Asia Classics.’

September 11, 2012

Stuff White People Like

Stuff White People Like (SWPL) is a blog that takes a satirical aim at the interests of North American ‘left-leaning, city-dwelling, white folk.’ The blog was created in 2008 by a white Canadian, Christian Lander, a Los Angeles copywriter who grew up in Toronto and graduated from McGill University. Lander co-authored the site with his Filipino Canadian friend Myles Valentin, after Valentin teased Lander for watching the HBO television series ‘The Wire.’ Although the blog ‘has spurred an outpouring from those who view it as offensive and racist,’ it is not about the interests of all white people, but rather a stereotype of affluent, environmentally and socially conscious, anti-corporate white North Americans, who typically hold a degree in the liberal arts. Lander claims to be lampooning contemporary versions of bohemian/hipster culture, and jokingly refers to other classes and subcultures of white people as ‘the wrong kind of white people.’ Despite the site’s satirical edge, Lander regards the people he describes with affection and numbers himself among them, describing himself as ‘a self-aware, left-wing person who’s not afraid to recognize the selfishness and contradictions that come on the left.’

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September 11, 2012

Ad Filtering

Ad filtering or ad blocking is removing or altering advertising content in a webpage. Advertising can exist in a variety of forms including pictures, animations, embedded audio and video, text, or pop-up windows. Very often it employs autoplay of audio and video. It is a known problem with most web browsers that restoring sessions often plays multiple embedded ads at once. All browsers offer some solution to the problem, either by targeting technologies (Flash/Shockwave, Window Media files, etc.) that are used to deliver ads, targeting URLs that are the source of ads, or targeting behavior characteristic of ads (such as the use of HTML5 autoplay of both audio and video).

An extremely common method of filtering is simply to block (or prevent autoplay of) Flash animation or image loading or Windows audio and video files. This can be done in most browsers easily. This crude technological method is refined by numerous browser extensions. In general one alters the options, preferences or application extensions to filter specific media types, but an additional add-on is required to differentiate between ads and non-ads using the same technology, or between wanted and unwanted ads or behaviors. The more advanced filters allow fine-grained control of advertisements through features such as blacklists, whitelists, and regular expression filters. Certain security features also have the effect of disabling some ads. Some antivirus software can act as ad blocker, including some freeware such as Avast. Ironically, some of this freeware itself runs ads, and instructions on how to block those are common on the web. For instance, Avast’s ads to upgrade itself to the paid version which are easily disabled.

September 11, 2012

Commercial Skipping

Commercial skipping is an advanced feature in some digital video recorders that makes it possible to automatically skip commercials in recorded programs. This feature has created controversy, with major television networks and movie studios claiming it violates copyright and should be banned. For many years, video recorders manufactured for the Japanese market have been able to skip advertisements automatically, which is done by detecting when foreign language audio overdub tracks provided for many programs go silent, as advertisements were broadcast with a single language only. The first DVR which had a built-in Commercial skipping feature was ReplayTV with its ‘4000 Series’ and ‘5000 Series’ units. In 2002 five owners of the ReplayTV DVR sued the main television networks and movie studios, asking the federal judge to uphold consumers’ rights to record TV shows and skip commercials claiming that features like commercial skipping help parents protect their kids from excessive consumerism. ReplayTV ended up filing for bankruptcy in 2003 after fighting a copyright infringement suit over the ReplayTV’s ability to skip commercials.

September 10, 2012

Korean Wave

The Korean wave refers to the significant increase in the popularity of South Korean entertainment and culture starting in the 1990s, in Asia, and more recently in other parts of the world. It represents a surge in the international visibility of Korean culture. The term was coined in mid 1999 by Beijing journalists surprised at the fast growing popularity of Korean entertainment and culture in China. The wave has had considerable impact on the South Korean economy, as well as on the political and cultural influence of South Korea. For example, in 2011 based on international activity the Korean wave added approximately USD$3.8 billion dollars of revenue to the South Korean economy.

In the late 1990s, the Korean wave reached numerous Asian countries, including China, Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Philippines, and Singapore. Korean dramas were a key aspect of this proliferation, as well as the subsequent establishment of niche markets in Europe and North America. Korean pop music, referred to as ‘K-pop,’ has played a significant role in the Korean wave. In recent years, Korean entertainment companies have recognized YouTube as a key component for spreading Korean culture. According to Bernie Cho, the president of the DFSB Kollective (a Seoul-based agency specializing in the marketing of international K-pop acts), Korean entertainment companies are ‘aggressively steering their efforts to go international via the Internet.’

September 10, 2012

I would rather cry in a BMW

bmw china

Fei Cheng Wu Rao

I would rather cry in a BMW‘ is a quotation that became an online sensation in China in 2010. It originated from Ma Nuo, a 20-year-old female contestant on the television show ‘Fei Cheng Wu Rao’ (also known in English as ‘If you are the One’).

The line was in response to a question by an unemployed suitor who asked if Ma would ‘ride a bicycle with him’ on a date. The series of events have been summed up in the media with the quip ‘I would rather cry in a BMW than laugh on a bicycle.’

September 10, 2012

Amazon Tax

amazon-tax

Amazon.com has been criticized for collecting sales taxes from customers in only the five states it has a major presence in. Several states have passed or are considering ‘Amazon tax‘ laws designed to compel Amazon to collect local sales and use taxes from customers. The U.S. has no federal sales tax. In most countries where Amazon operates, a sales tax or value added (consumption) tax is uniform throughout the country, and Amazon is obliged to collect it from all customers. Proponents argue that Amazon has a comparative advantage over brick-and-mortar retailers, and the online company is under increasing legal and political pressure from state governments, traditional retailers and other groups because of its refusal to collect sales tax in 40 of the 45 states with a statewide sales tax. Those 40 states include at least 12 where Amazon has a clear physical presence via distribution centers and wholly owned subsidiaries.

Amazon is often able to overcome threats from state governments by cutting ties with local partners or leaving the state in question. Amazon severed its relationships with affiliates in Colorado due to efforts by the state government to collect sales tax on internet purchases. Amazon has threatened similar action against affiliates in Illinois over the same issue. In February 2011, Amazon announced that it would be closing its Dallas, Texas distribution center over the sales-tax dispute. Amazon has created subsidiaries that are treated separately for tax matters, a legal technique called ‘entity isolation.’ The subsidiary that developed the Kindle is in California, but because it doesn’t sell the Kindle directly to customers, Amazon’s legal position is that it isn’t required to collect sales taxes in California.

September 10, 2012

LifeLock

LifeLock Inc., founded in 2005, is an American identity theft protection company based in Arizona. The company charges $10 a month for the LifeLock identity theft protection system intended to detect fraudulent applications for some forms of credit and non-credit related services. Lifelock provides a $1 million guarantee in the event of identity theft. The guarantee is that Lifelock will spend up to $1,000,000 on restoring your identity; Lifelock does not cover the direct losses you incur from identity theft or pay restitution to you for money lost. In 2010, LifeLock was fined $12 million by the FTC for deceptive advertising. The agency called their prior marketing claims misleading to consumers. LifeLock has partnered with major banks, national corporations and has celebrity endorsers like Rush Limbaugh.

LifeLock’s CEO Todd Davis was the victim of identity theft 13 times during 2007 and 2008, after he publicly posted his Social Security number on billboards and in TV commercials as part of a campaign to promote the company’s identity theft protection services. The company’s ex-cofounder, Robert Maynard, was accused in 2007 of misrepresenting his story about identity theft, which resulted in his resignation. Maynard often recants the story that the idea for the company was founded from a jail cell in 2003. He was serving for $16,000 in casino loans that he claims were made by someone who stole his identity. The story goes that he spent $20,000 and many phone calls to clear his name and thought of LifeLock as a way to prevent others from being victimized. The media was sucked into the story of LifeLock, but investigations later showed he was lying. Video recordings showed that he was at the casino and a drivers license confirmed the debt was his. He started LifeLock in 2005, even as he himself was filing for bankruptcy for the third time.

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September 9, 2012

Uber

uber

Uber (formerly UberCab) is a venture-funded startup company based in San Francisco that makes a mobile application that connects passengers with drivers of luxury vehicles (e.g. Lincoln, Cadillac, BMW) for hire.

The company arranges pickups in the San Francisco Bay Area, New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, Washington, D.C., Vancouver, Toronto, Paris, and Philadelphia. Cars are reserved by sending a text message or by using a mobile app. Using the apps, customers can track their reserved car’s location.

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September 9, 2012

Klout

Klout is a San Francisco based company that measures influence by using data points from Twitter, such as following count, follower count, retweets, list memberships, how many spam/dead accounts are following you, how influential the people who retweet you are, and unique mentions. This information is blended with data from a number of other social networks such as comment, likes, and the number of friends in your network to come up with a ‘Klout Score’ (1-100) that measures a user’s online influence. The company has been subject to substantial criticism, both for its business model and its operating principle. Klout scrapes social network data and creates profiles on individuals and assigns them a ‘Klout score.’ Klout has claimed to have built more than 100 million profiles. Klout is not an ‘opt-in’ service, but individuals who register at Klout can ensure that all of their social networks are accessed and therefore evaluated in their Klout scores. Klout also builds profiles of individuals who are connected to those who do register at Klout.

Klout scores are supplemented with three nominally more specific measures, which Klout calls ‘true reach’ (the size of a person’s ‘engaged audience’ of followers and friends who actively listen and react to his or her online messages), ‘amplification’ (the likelihood that one’s messages will generate actions such as retweets, @messages, likes, and comments), and ‘network impact’ (value of a person’s engaged audience). The business model is then based around connecting businesses with individuals of high influence. Companies have paid to get in contact with individuals with high Klout scores in hopes that free merchandise and other perks will influence them to spread positive publicity for them.

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September 8, 2012

Paul Bacon

slaughterhouse-five by paul bacon

we bombed in new haven

Paul Bacon (b. 1923), is an American book and album cover designer and jazz musician. He is known for introducing the ‘Big Book Look’ in book jacket design, and has designed about 6,500 jackets and more than 200 jazz record covers. His first big hit came in 1956 with ‘Compulsion,’ a novel by Meyer Levin.

This cover also marked the inception of the ‘Big Book Look’ that Bacon became known for. This look features a large, bold title, a prominent author’s name, and a small conceptual image. Instances of this ‘look’ include ‘Catch-22′ by Joseph Heller, ‘Visions of Cody’ by Jack Kerouac, and ‘Bullet Park’ by John Cheever, along with countless others.

September 8, 2012

George Dantzig

George Dantzig (1914 – 2005) was an American mathematical scientist who solved two unsolved problems in statistical theory, which he had mistaken for homework after arriving late to a lecture of UC Berkeley statistician Jerzy Neyman. Dantzig was the Professor Emeritus of Transportation Sciences and Professor of Operations Research and of Computer Science at Stanford. Born in Portland, Oregon, George Bernard Dantzig was named after George Bernard Shaw, the Irish writer. His father, Tobias Dantzig, was a Baltic German mathematician and linguist, and his mother, Anja Dantzig (née Ourisson), was a French linguist. Dantzig’s parents met during their study at the Sorbonne, where Tobias studied mathematics under Henri Poincaré.

After emigrating to the US early in the 1920s, the Dantzig family moved from Baltimore to Washington. His mother became a linguist at the Library of Congress, and his father became a math tutor at the University of Maryland. George attended Powell Junior High School and Central High School. By the time he reached high school he was already fascinated by geometry, and this interest was further nurtured by his father, challenging him with complicated problems, particularly in projective geometry. George Dantzig earned bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and physics from the University of Maryland in 1936, and his master’s degree in mathematics from the University of Michigan in 1938. After a two-year period at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, he enrolled in the doctoral program in mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley, where he studied statistics under Jerzy Neyman.

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September 8, 2012

Poka-yoke

Poka-yoke is a Japanese term that means ‘fail-safing’ or ‘mistake-proofing.’ A poka-yoke is any mechanism in a lean manufacturing process that helps an equipment operator avoid (‘yokeru’) mistakes (‘poka’). Its purpose is to eliminate product defects by preventing, correcting, or drawing attention to human errors as they occur. The concept was formalized, and the term adopted, by Shigeo Shingo as part of the Toyota Production System. It was originally described as ‘baka-yoke,’ but as this means ‘fool-proofing’ (or ‘idiot-proofing’) the name was changed to the milder poka-yoke. More broadly, the term can refer to any behavior-shaping constraint designed into a process to prevent incorrect operation by the user. Similarly, a constraint that is part of the product (or service) design is considered DFM (design for manufacturability) or DFX (design for X). A good example of a poka-yoke design is the shape of a cell phone SIM card which can only be inserted in the cell phone in the correct way. Shingo argued that errors are inevitable in any manufacturing process, but that if appropriate poka-yokes are implemented, then mistakes can be caught quickly and prevented from resulting in defects. By eliminating defects at the source, the cost of mistakes within a company is reduced.

Poka-yoke can be implemented at any step of a manufacturing process where something can go wrong or an error can be made. For example, a jig that holds pieces for processing might be modified to only allow pieces to be held in the correct orientation, or a digital counter might track the number of spot welds on each piece to ensure that the worker executes the correct number of welds. Shigeo Shingo recognized three types of poka-yoke for detecting and preventing errors in a mass production system: the contact method identifies product defects by testing the product’s shape, size, color, or other physical attributes; the fixed-value (or constant number) method alerts the operator if a certain number of movements are not made; and the motion-step (or sequence) method determines whether the prescribed steps of the process have been followed. Either the operator is alerted when a mistake is about to be made, or the poka-yoke device actually prevents the mistake from being made. In Shingo’s lexicon, the former implementation would be called a warning poka-yoke, while the latter would be referred to as a control poka-yoke.

September 8, 2012

RiFF RaFF

Jody Christian (b. 1985), best known by his stage name RiFF RaFF, is an American rapper and performance artist from Houston. He is signed to the Mad Decent record label. He is best known for his initial associations with Soulja Boy, and being a member of the comedy super group Three Loco with Andy Milonakis and Simon Rex. Riff Raff started his social media involvement as a rapper on Myspace, using the name ‘Kokayne Dawkinz.’ His first public appearance was not as a rapper, but as a contestant on the 2009 MTV reality show From ‘G’s to Gents’ (season 2). Though he was eliminated from series on the second episode, he used this exposure to publicize his career as a rapper. Two years later, he was said to be signed to the Soulja Boy’s Stacks on Deck Entertainment label in 2011, and added ‘SODMG’ to his name for a period. This was later said to be false in an interview by Soulja Boy.

He signed an 8-album deal with producer Diplo reportedly worth $2.7 million dollars. Riff Raff’s persona as a rapper can be described as nostalgic pastiche for late ’90s and early 2000s Houston Hip-Hop, with heavy reference to DJ Screw, DJ Michael Watts, and the Swishahouse record label. Riff Raff is noted for his technical skill as a freestyler, as mentioned by a number of news outlets, and exhibited in several World Star Hip Hop exclusive videos. He is also known as Jody Highroller. He aggressively uses social media for self-promotion. Because of this, Riff Raff is considered by many to be a ‘viral rapper.’ Riff Raff is the originator of a Twitter meme where he analogizes himself to being the rap game’s version of a certain individual, e.g. ‘Rap Game King Tut.’

September 7, 2012

The Thin Ideal

The Thin Ideal is the concept of the idyllically slim female body. The common perception of this ideal is that of a slender, feminine physique with a small waist and little body fat. The size of the thin ideal is decreasing while the rate of female obesity is simultaneously increasing, making this iconic body difficult for women to maintain. This creates a gap between the actual appearance of an average woman’s body and its expected appearance which, depending on the extent to which the ideal is internalized, may have serious psychological effects.

The degree to which women are psychologically affected by the thin ideal depends to what extent the ideal is internalized. An article from the ‘Eating Disorders Journal’ states that ‘thin ideal internalization is the extent to which an individual ‘buys into’ socially defined ideals of attractiveness and engages in behaviors designed to approximate these ideals.’ Women generally relate the ideally thin body to positive life outcomes such as happiness, confidence, and romantic success, and consequently a majority of women value the thin ideal to some extent.

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