Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Apple Unveils Environmental Responsibility Page in Honor of Earth Day

April 23rd, 2014 by Kimberly Johnson

On April 22nd, coinciding with Earth Day, Apple rolled out an environmental responsibility page on its website. The page is a comprehensive guide to the many environmental initiatives the company is taking to minimize carbon emissions and other harmful impacts on the environment. Apple has been criticized in the past for its electronic waste, but CEO Tim Cook says that Apple is aiming to “leave the world better than we found it.”


One of the major initiatives is Apple’s new recycling policy: Apple stores will now recycle any device free of charge, no matter its condition. They will also offer store credit (in the form of Apple gift cards) for devices in decent condition. Previously, Apple only accepted old iPhones and iPads, but this new initiative is much more comprehensive.

Lisa Jackson, Apple’s Vice President of environmental initiatives (and former EPA administrator) is spearheading a number of other efforts to reduce the company’s environmental impact. At the moment, 94% of Apple stores run on renewable energy sources such as biogas, hydro, solar, and wind power. Four data centers, located in California, Nevada, Oregon, and North Carolina, rely solely on renewable energy sources. Apple’s new headquarters in Cupertino will rely exclusively on renewable energy as well, and the company hopes that the same will go for all of their stores, data centers, and offices at some point in the future.

The company is also limiting the number of toxic chemicals used in their products in an effort to keep consumers, Apple employees, and the environment safe. Apple’s new web page explains that:

Many substances commonly used in the electronics industry can be harmful to people or the planet. So we design our products with cleaner, safer materials to reduce and eliminate these toxins. And we hold our suppliers accountable — we conduct factory audits, test components with independent laboratories, and verify the results in a lab we built at our headquarters in Cupertino. It’s our mission to make sure anyone who assembles, uses, and recycles an Apple product can do so safely.

Furthermore, it seems that Apple’s efforts at cleaning up their act are legitimate, and not merely greenwashing. In a recent report, Greenpeace applauds Apple’s environmental stewardship, claiming that they are “the most innovative and most aggressive in pursuing its commitment to be 100 percent renewably powered.”

So, cheers to Apple! Thoughts? Let us know in the comments section!

Find Friends in your Neighborhood with Facebook’s Newest Feature

April 18th, 2014 by Kimberly Johnson

Over the next couple of weeks Facebook will roll out its newest feature – “Nearby Friends.” The feature, which will be built into the Facebook app and not a separate app (for now at least), will allow users to connect with friends in their neighborhood. In the coming weeks Facebook users will be invited to opt-in to the feature.

So, what happens when you opt-in? Those that choose to use the feature will have their location tracked, even when they are logged out of Facebook. They will be able to see the location of their friends (who have also opted-in) that are in the same neighborhood or close by. The user can choose to allow certain friends to see their exact location for a certain period of time, though both users must grant permission for specific locations to be shown. This function is mainly to allow users to meet up at crowded concert venues, etc. After the time period expires, the feature reverts back to its standard operating mode.

Source: The Verge

Facebook claims that users will experience minimal battery drain with this added feature. Privacy settings, similar to those on Facebook’s newsfeed feature, can be implemented so users can control whose locations they are viewing. Push notifications can be set up as well. And, Facebook claims that they have algorithms that allow the feature to learn about the user’s relationships. For instance, many users are friends with fellow employees on Facebook and wouldn’t want to receive notifications everyday when they walk into the office. The same goes for family members that live together and are Facebook friends.

Facebook hopes that the new feature will help create new relationships and increase interaction among friends in the real world, rather than online. What do you think? Will the new feature accomplish these goals? Let us know in the comments below!

TGIF: Your Weekend Guide

April 18th, 2014 by Christina Yang

2014 Cherry Blossom Festival (Apr. 19 at Japantown Peace Plaza)

All Day – Come out to the second largest festival outside of Washington, D.C. to celebrate the blooming of cherry blossoms! There will be good food, cultural performances, live bands, and more!

Food Truck Easter Brunch Bash: Egg Painting & Bottomless Mimosas (Apr. 20 at 428 11th Street, SF)

Starts at 10 am – Over 10 delicious food trucks will be serving egg-cellent brunch specials! The 2014 Easter Brunch Food Truck Lineup will include:

  • The Melt: Egg-in-the-hole waffle grilled cheese
  • Adam’s Grub Truck
  • The Boneyard
  • Bob Cha Korean
  • Me So Hungry
  • The Naked Chorizo
  • Gyros On Wheels
  • El Calamar
  • Firetrail Pizza
  • Lil Burma
  • Frozen Kuhsterd
  • Me Meli

Ghirardelli Square Easter Egg Hunt & Free Ice Cream Sundaes (Apr. 20 at 900 North Point Street, SF)

12 pm – 2:30 pm – Swing by the Easter Festival for tons of activities along with free ice cream sundaes! Enjoy!~


Heartbleed Bug: What Passwords Do You Need to Change? [INFOGRAPHIC]

April 16th, 2014 by Chris Macdonald

Curious to know what sites were affected by Heartbleed? Look no further! This nifty infographic has you covered.

The Heartbleed Bug
by hugraphic.
Explore more visuals like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

TGIF: Your Weekend Guide

April 11th, 2014 by Christina Yang

Coachella 2014: Live Streaming Concert (Apr. 11 – YouTube)

All Day – Couldn’t make it down to SoCal for Coachella? Don’t fret as YouTube is live streaming three stages of music for FREE, April 11-13! Don’t miss out!

SF Giants Post-Game Fireworks Show (Apr. 11 at AT&T Park)

Until 10:15 pm (as soon as the game ends) – Enjoy a spectacular fireworks display over the stadium following the game!

National Grilled Cheese Day 2014: Food Truck Bash (Apr. 12 at 428 11th Street, SF)

11 am – 5 pm – Celebrate National Grilled Cheese Day 2014 at this one-day-only event with a bevy of food trucks serving up their unique versions of grilled cheese sandwiches! Note: They will also be serving beer and bottomless fresh fruit sangria throughout the event!

Location Location Location: Will Norman Foster’s $5 Billion Apple Headquarters Be a Flop?

April 9th, 2014 by Kimberly Johnson

Norman Foster’s $5 billion proposal for Apple’s new Cupertino headquarters, expected to be completed sometime in 2016, has been in the news for a while now. Before his death, Steve Jobs worked with Foster for years to create what will undoubtedly be one of Jobs’ most enduring legacies. Twenty-four new renderings of the Apple campus were released last November and can be seen here.

In total, the 176-acre site will accommodate over 13,000 Apple employees. The latest renderings portray a dazzling, idyllic tech community nestled among a lush (manmade) forest. Apple’s own in-house arborist will tend to 7,000 fruit trees. The main structure is an otherworldly glass ring, which creates a sense of openness, transparency, and continuity, and is detailed to Apple product perfection. Cafes and lobbies are scattered throughout, as well as a restaurant that opens up to the sprawling outdoor space.


While the proposal is without a doubt impressive, what about real estate’s longstanding tenet? Location is everything, and some of the biggest names in tech have moved north. Uber, Pinterest, Airbnb, and Dropbox all call San Francisco home now.

There has been a general rule of thumb when it comes to tech companies and location: companies that make consumer products tend to be located in San Francisco, while hardware and software companies that serve mainly businesses and developers are typically based in Silicon Valley. While this rule still rings true to a certain extent, people seem to simply be more interested in living in San Francisco. And, given Paul Goldberger’s description of the region, we probably can’t blame them: “Most of Silicon Valley is suburban sprawl, plain and simple, its main artery a wide boulevard called El Camino Real that might someday possess some degree of urban density but now could be on the outskirts of Phoenix.”

Still though, it’s Apple. As long as the tech giant continues to churn out the most innovative and desirable products in the industry, I’ve got to think that people will be dying to work there. And, with the new campus, they will certainly be well taken care of!

What do you think? Will the Steve Jobs/Norman Foster creation be enough to keep Apple’s best talent in Silicon Valley? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Getting Creative with 3D Printers

April 7th, 2014 by Kimberly Johnson

Over the past few years 3D printers have become ubiquitous. From architectural modeling to 3D printed food products, the applications for 3D printers seem to be endless. There is one growing trend that has the potential to provide profoundly innovative products while stirring up equally profound controversies: 3D printing and the human body.

At the ENSCI-Les Ateliers design school in Paris, students recently swapped out some of their MakerBot 3D printer’s parts and turned it into a tattoo machine. While the machine is only capable of making rudimentary designs at this time, it creates a permanent ink tattoo much like one you’d receive from an artist in a tattoo parlor. One of the foremost challenges is getting the tattoo to print accurately on human skin which is soft, flexible, and curved.

While 3D printed tattoos are perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea, there is another emerging technology with much broader applications. Medical researchers have begun to explore ways in which 3D printers can be used to create human organs.


At this time medical researchers are able to engineer more basic biological structures such as blood vessels and skin grafts by hand, but replicating organs presents a much larger challenge because of their vast complexities. Here is where 3D printers come in handy: they are able achieve an incredibly high level of precision which is needed to replicate the complex vascular structures of human organs.

Transplant organs are in high demand, but we are likely decades away from creating 3D organs that are viable for transplant. There are, however, some other applications for this technology that we may see sooner. Medical researchers are currently able to create pieces of organ tissue and they hope that when transplanted into the human body, the printed cells will integrate with existing cells. Printed organs may also be used for research, and would likely produce more accurate results than synthetic or animal test subjects.

3D printed organs do face a number of hurdles. They will require FDA approval, which can take years. There are also some moral and ethical concerns that could hinder their development. Producing 3D organs will be wildly expensive, at least at first, and therefore will presumably only be available to the rich. People also may wonder if we are playing God by going through such extreme measures to extend human lives. But, it seems likely that this technology will prevail, as these ethical concerns are typically brushed aside when it comes to medical technology that can save lives.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments!

Google Buses: What’s the Big Deal?

April 3rd, 2014 by Kimberly Johnson

The controversy surrounding “Google buses” and other shuttles operated by tech giants based in Silicon Valley and the Peninsula continues as protesters attempted to thwart Google passengers’ commute in the Mission. The protest was launched on April 1st, coinciding with the San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ vote to appeal a pilot program approved in January. The pilot program allows corporate shuttles to use Muni stops throughout San Francisco at the cost of $1 per stop per day for 18 months.

While the shuttles had to agree to avoid the city’s busiest Muni stops and yield to public transportation vehicles, opponents are adamant about stopping the shuttles from using Muni stops and some want them banned from the city altogether. They claim that the environmental impact indicated in studies conducted before the pilot program’s approval were inadequate.

Source: Business Insider

Those in favor of the pilot program note that the shuttles take drivers off the road, thus reducing traffic, and help curb carbon emissions. A UC Berkeley poll found that of 130 riders, 40% would move closer to their Silicon Valley or Peninsula job if the shuttles didn’t exist, while 48% would stay put in San Francisco and drive to work.

Here’s my take on this whole thing: there are valid arguments to both sides of the story, though it seems that the controversy is a piece of a much larger puzzle, and that gentrification, not the buses themselves, is the underlying point of contention here. The influx of money and wealth from the south is obviously playing a role in the drastic increase we’ve seen in the cost of living in San Francisco, naturally making many that call this place home irate. But, while the tech shuttles are likely increasing the rate of gentrification, there are surely other factors at hand. Perhaps some of these other factors should be analyzed before taking such a hard stance on getting rid of the tech shuttles. They are getting cars off the road after all, and cutting carbon emissions is a huge plus, at least in my book.

The appeal was turned down and the pilot program will launch in July, guaranteeing that the onslaught of press, and protests, surrounding this issue will continue.

Whose side are you on? Let us know in the comments!

Airbrushing Selfie Apps – Too Far?

April 2nd, 2014 by Kimberly Johnson

Selfies are a trend that’s undoubtedly here to stay, but there seems to be a new trend brewing that’s bound to create some controversy – selfie airbrushing apps.

SkinneePix, available for $0.99 on the iPhone, gives users the option to shave 5, 10, or 15 pounds off their selfie in a matter of seconds. Another app called Perfect365 takes it a step further, allowing users to remove blemishes, drop pounds, whiten teeth and adjust and enhance facial features to movie star perfection with a few swipes.

Here is where the controversy begins: Is this just all in good fun? Or are we now condoning the creation of lies in the way we look? Are airbrushing and photoshopping images of the human body really trends that we want to further reinforce?

In some media outlets users have claimed that the apps are harmless and used purely for entertainment. Apps that allow users to drastically change their hair color or make them appear hugely overweight or old have been around for a few years, and haven’t seemed to stir up much controversy. Also, some users claim that they use their altered selfies, especially the ones in which they have reduced their weight, as motivation to get into better shape. So, what’s the big deal with these new apps?


My stance is that these apps are abhorrent and obnoxious, and that they are reinforcing cultural preferences for thinness and prettiness that I had hoped we were starting to move past. Aerie, American Eagle’s Lingerie line, decided to forgo the use of Photoshop in their most recent campaign, showcasing beautiful, real, unaltered models. Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty, which celebrates the bodies of women of various sizes and backgrounds, has been very well received in the ten years that it’s been around. These campaigns have paved the way for others to create content that’s real, shunning the unattainable ideals of beauty that until now have been reinforced in advertising, magazines, on TV and in movies, essentially since they came to fruition.

So, perhaps you can understand my dismay at this growing trend. While the magazine and advertising industries have taken steps, though piecemeal, to create a more inclusive idea of what is beautiful, apps such as SkinneePix and Perfect365 put tools directly in our hands that undo the progress that’s been made.

What do you think of this trend? A step backwards or simply fun and games? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

(OK)Cupid Strikes Again

April 1st, 2014 by Leanne Reis

Mozilla Firefox came under fire this week after promoting JavaScript inventor, Brendan Eich, to CEO. The controversy surrounding Eich was spurred from his 2008 decision to pledge $1000 in support of Proposition 8, an initiative that would ban same-sex marriage in the state of California.

Fighting for equality and capitalism, the Dating website OKCupid lead the charge against Eich and Mozilla with a brilliant PR stunt. On Tuesday, March 31st, Firefox users accessing the OKCupid site were met with the following message:

“Hello there, Mozilla Firefox user. Pardon this interruption of your OkCupid experience.

Mozilla’s new CEO, Brendan Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for gay couples. We would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access OkCupid.

Politics is normally not the business of a website, and we all know there’s a lot more wrong with the world than misguided CEOs. So you might wonder why we’re asserting ourselves today. This is why: we’ve devoted the last ten years to bringing people—all people—together. If individuals like Mr. Eich had their way, then roughly 8% of the relationships we’ve worked so hard to bring about would be illegal. Equality for gay relationships is personally important to many of us here at OkCupid. But it’s professionally important to the entire company. OkCupid is for creating love. Those who seek to deny love and instead enforce misery, shame, and frustration are our enemies, and we wish them nothing but failure.”

In a letter to the Huffington Post, a Mozilla spokesperson wrote, “Mozilla supports equality for all, including marriage equality for LGBT couples. No matter who you are or who you love, everyone deserves the same rights and to be treated equally. OkCupid never reached out to us to let us know of their intentions, nor to confirm facts.”

Eich himself responded via his personal blog with the statement, “I am committed to ensuring that Mozilla is, and will remain, a place that includes and supports everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, age, race, ethnicity, economic status, or religion.”

True tolerance would dictate that society should accept LGBT and LGBT-phobic folk; but logic has no place in public opinion, and that’s what Mozilla should be weary of. While Eich is entitled to his opinions, this is a huge misstep for Mozilla Firefox. The percentage of the population that even aware that JavaScript exists is heavily outweighed by the percentage of people who knows about LGBT’s struggle for equal rights.

By promoting an openly anti-gay employee to the highest position in all the land, Mozilla Firefox is sending the message that they’re ambivalent, at best, when it comes to the topic of gay rights. These days it’s impossible to hide information such as campaign contributions, and Mozilla Firefox is likely to continue to lose users if they don’t do something to remedy this situation immediately.

What do you think? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!