Tag Archives: Change
Amazon is finally offering a simple way for its cloud services customers to lock down data stored at its Simple Storage Service (S3) with one fell swoop. This change should help companies in the Fortune 500 and mom-and-pops down the street avoid embarrassing breaches of data.
Customers of Amazon Web Services (AWS) routinely leave private files available for public consumption. That’s led to routine, sometimes costly situations for companies that find hackers or security researchers have retrieved customer information, databases containing user passwords, or even proprietary company secrets.
That includes the global consulting and management firm Accenture, which in October 2017 left four of its S3 storage areas, known as “buckets,” open to public examination and download. Over 137 gigabytes of data could have been retrieved, including 40,000 unencrypted passwords. Accenture’s cloud platform, hosted on Amazon’s services, include 92 of the Fortune Global 100 and three-quarters of the Fortune Global 500. A security researcher discovered the public data and informed Accenture.
In August 2018, a researcher discovered that a company that sells surveillance software it markets for parents, Spyfone, left an Amazon S3 bucket publicly available, and intimate and personal data extracted from thousands of people its customers were monitoring were exposed, according to Motherboard. This included several terabytes of camera photos.
Last November, Amazon released a change that gave system administrators better notification about any storage buckets set to public access, using an orange label in its file-browsing dashboard.
The change released on Nov. 16, however, allows top-down control for an entire storage area, including disabling overrides for individual folders or files within it. This will prevent companies from leaving data open for global snooping—if they’re attentive enough to know about the new feature and enable it.
The number of security breaches due to customer settings at Amazon S3 has been so high that articles at tech sites devote themselves to listing them all.
Notable breaches include Uber, which exposed personal data of about 57 million customers in October 2016, and didn’t disclose the matter [until November 2017](Dara Khosrowshahi), after it had hired a new CEO; Deep Root Analytics, which exposed personal data on 198 million American voters; and the WWE wrestling entertainment firm, which exposed personal details of 3 million of its fans.
None of us are supposed to be static beings. We’re supposed to learn, to sweeten like wine over time into something better than we were yesterday. We constantly laud that idea. When we finally go to practice self-improvement, though, something quirky happens–people who once promised their support withdraw to the background or seem grumpier than a woodchuck with a toothache.
Why does this happen? Research led by Lydia Emery from Northwestern University might offer a clue, as summarized by Ashley Lyles in Psychology Today. Over several studies, individuals thought about how their partners had changed. They indicated how much previous or anticipated support or resistance they had to those changes. Researchers had the individuals self-assess how clear they were about their self-concept, as well.
The researchers found that, when people had lower clarity about their self-concept, they generally were not as supportive of their partner changing. The team concluded that this was because the individuals worried that changes in their partner meant they would have to change, too. Without a solid idea of who they were on their own, they were unsettled not knowing how the partners would redefine them.
While this work focused on more intimate, romantic relationships, it’s reasonable to believe that the same results could happen with anybody we feel deeply connected to. This includes family members who help with entrepreneurial efforts, mentors or team members you’ve bonded with. It’s human nature to cling to familiarity to some degree, and because we use external validation to form and confirm our perception of ourselves, it can be scary to see those we see as our foundation become willing to shift. We have to face the question of whether the changes we see somehow will alter our future or, worse, break the connection with the person who means so much to us.
So it’s not that people don’t care about what you want to do. In fact, they probably really want you to achieve and reach your goals. It’s just that they need to know who they are without you. You can help them figure that out by
- Encouraging them to try new things
- Asking for their opinion
- Inquiring about what they want or value
- Getting them more information or resources to explore their hobbies and interests
- Tactfully pointing out both strengths and weaknesses in a positive way
- Connecting them with new people
- Stepping back so they can take more control
- Encouraging them to try again after mistakes
- Taking time to listen about deeper experiences that can fuel fear and timidity
The more you build the other person up through these strategies, the more they’ll be able to stand on their own. And once that happens, you should see their support of your self-improvement go up, too.
Published on: Oct 18, 2018
- Netflix will invest $ 1.3B in technology this year alone according to a recent interview with founder and CEO Reed Hastings.
- Netflix is spending $ 8B on content production and licensing this year, with the goal of achieving 1,000 original releases in 2018.
- Netflix has been nominated for a record 112 Emmy Awards this year, breaking HBO’s 17-year streak at the top.
- For their latest fiscal quarter ending March 31 of this year, Netflix reported a revenue increase of 40% to $ 3.7B. International streaming increased 70% to $ 1.78B, and domestic streaming increased 24% to $ 1.82B,
- In their latest quarter, Netflix reported faster-than-forecast subscriber growth both internationally (5.46M net new subscribers versus guidance of 4.9M) and in the U.S. (1.96M net new subscribers, versus guidance of 1.45M).
- Netflix continues to expand its streaming base, ending their latest quarter with more than 118.9M global paid subscribers, up from 94.36M a year ago.
- By the end of March 2018, Netflix had reached 125M worldwide subscribers, 57M in the U.S. alone, in addition to having subscribers in 190 countries.
Netflix’s exponential growth this year is attributable in part to the cloud platform decisions made years ago that enable their subscription-based business model to scale globally securely. Last year at Amazon’s AWS re:Invent 2017 Conference, Greg Peters, Chief Product Officer of Netflix provided insights into how closely Netflix and AWS work together to create innovative new services based on AWS’ advances in machine learning-powered security, developer apps, and scalability. It’s an insightful session into how Netflix is relying on Amazon to do the heavy lifting of infrastructure development and can be viewed here, AWS re:Invent 2017 – Fireside Chat: Steve Schmidt, Jenny Brinkley, and Greg Peters of Netflix.
AWS and Netflix development teams are using machine learning-powered security to analyze data access patterns and look for anomalous account activity. The discussion includes many of the foundational concepts of Next-Gen Access (NGA) that is foundational to attaining Zero Trust Security (ZTS) across an enterprises’ IT infrastructure. AWS and Netflix are looking at how to capture the myriad of data points each access point to their subscription service enables daily and assess the risk of a breach in real-time, much like what Centrify is doing today. Greg Peters also defines scale as the ability to accommodate a growing, diverse base of developers with a paved path network that enables them to create and innovate quickly. Netflix has a strong DevOps culture where engineers have the freedom to spin up a new AWS instance to try out new ideas in seconds without having to wait for IT to approve them.
The following are ten charts that illustrate Netflix’s rapid growth as a cloud-based subscription business:
- 27% of Americans prefer Netflix over any other platform, including basic cable and broadcast TV according to a recent survey by investment banking firm Cowen & Company. Netflix’ popularity is soaring with Americans in the 18 – 34 age group with 39.7% naming Netflix as their favorite TV platform. The following illustrates just how dominant Netflix has become the TV platform of choice. Scaling to this level of popularity is possible in part because of the decision to standardize on a single cloud platform and work to have Netflix-specific features including on the AWS roadmap. Source: Netflix Is Americans’ Platform of Choice for TV Content, Statista, July 5, 2018.
- Netflix’s latest quarterly revenue of $ 3.7B is evenly distributed between domestic and international streaming, earned from 118.9M global subscribers as of March 31rst of this year. Q1 2018 revenue is evenly distributed between Domestic Streaming (49%) and International (49%). David Goldstein’s excellent graphic below provides a succinct analysis of the Netflix Income Statement for Q1, 2018 and a profile of subscriber levels over time. Source: Netflix Strong Q1 for Revenues, Profits, and Members by David Goldstein on April 19, 2018. Mekko Graphics.
- Netflix dominates the U.S. video-on-demand (VoD) market with 77% of all VoD services subscribers. With a 21% lead on Amazon, Netflix has market momentum in the U.S. where the strategy of creating more original content is paying off with subscriber growth and a greater variety of content density than their many competitors. Source: Statista Global Consumer Survey, 2018
- 43% of all U.S. VoD users subscribe to both Netflix and Amazon Video. Subscribing to multiple services is common with U.S. VoD users with 83% subscribing to more than one service. Nearly 1 in 3 U.S. VoD subscribers (29%) are subscribing to five or more services. While so many subscription-based businesses struggle to gain customers and minimize churn, Netflix has devised an aggressive strategy of making their subscription, ad-free model succeed. Reed Hastings, CEO, credits the intensity of effort and focus they are putting on creating exceptional, high-value content that attracts new subscribers and makes them loyal. A video clip of a recent interview with him and other members of the senior management team is here. Source: Statista Global Consumer Survey, 2018
- Netflix is projected to have over 114M households subscribing online by 2020. Netflix is growing its global household subscriber based at 8.96% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR), increasing from 81.52M households in 2016 to over 114M in 2020. Localized Netflix-produced content globally is growing faster than senior management originally anticipated, with 3%, a Brazilian science fiction (sci-fi) series produced in Portuguese being an example of one of the original content projects doing exceptionally well in 2018. Sources: Netflix Investor Relations and Digital TV Research.
- The Asia-Pacific subscriber base is projected to grow at an 18.47% CAGR through 2023, making it the fastest growing region globally. Western Europe is also forecast to gain subscribers, increasing by16 million between 2018 and 2023. Latin America, where Netflix is enjoying success with originally produced content that is being well-received globally, is predicted to gain 8 million subscribers in five years. Sources: Netflix Investor Relations and Digital TV Research.
- By 2020 Netflix’s streaming business in the U.S. alone is projected to deliver over $ 7B in revenue. From 2018 to 2020, streaming revenues are projected to grow at a CAGR of 8%, jumping from $ 5.4B in 2017 to $ 7.2B in 2020. Between 2011 and 2014, Netflix more than doubled streaming revenues from U.S.-based subscribers jumping from $ 1.6B to $ 3.4B. Sources: Digital TV Research, Netflix Investor Relations, and Nakono.
- While price is the most appealing feature for 56% of respondents to recent Tivo/Fiercecable survey, members having the flexibility of creating their profiles (52.9%) increases content consumption across all devices. Speaking from experience in a household where there are five separate Netflix accounts, each person having the opportunity to personalize their content preferences is a major advantage of NetFlix over other streaming services. Search is the third favorite feature and autoplay fourth with 43.4% of respondents selecting this feature. Multiple responses were allowed to this question. Source: TiVo & Fiercecable study completed December 2017
- Netflix’ content strategy is paying off with strong levels of loyalty across all age groups, including the 50 – 64-year-old segment who often perceive TV as long-standing broadcast ad-based networks. Netflix’s cloud strategy has made it possible to immediately scale their original content across national and regional markets immediately, as is the case with their sci-fi series 3% which is produced in Portuguese for the Brazilian market. Netflix’ senior management has found a strong reception for 3% across other nations as well. Their cloud platform makes it possible to scale this and other series globally in real-time, outrunning competitors who have not invested so heavily into a scalable, secure cloud platform. Source: TiVo & Fiercecable study completed December 2017
Louis Columbus is an enterprise software strategist with expertise in analytics, cloud computing, CPQ, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), e-commerce and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).
In an otherwise dour outlook on the world’s chances of recovering from climate change, the International Energy Agency director named one bright prospect that arrived this year bearing President Trump’s signature.
IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said the world is unlikely to achieve its Paris Agreement obligations without “major, huge technological breakthroughs,” but the 2018 federal budget could spur a breakthrough in carbon capture and sequestration.
“There is one political move recently that I should say, I welcome this strongly,” Birol said, fingering changes to the Section 45Q tax credit for carbon sequestration.
Carbon capture and sequestration was long the object of bipartisan neglect because Democrats didn’t want to extend the life of fossil fuels and Republicans didn’t want t0 admit to anthropogenic climate change. That began to change as the effects of climate change grew more palpable, and the chances dimmed of mitigating it without capturing carbon emissions.
So a bipartisan group of senators led by by Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), John Barrasso (R-WY), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) worked to strengthen a carbon capture tax credit that already existed in U.S. law. The old credit offered a $ 10 per ton credit for CO2 used for enhanced oil recovery and $ 20 for other permanent forms of sequestration.
The oil and gas industry backed efforts to boost the credit because drillers can pump CO2 into wells to force out oil and gas, then seal the wells, leaving the CO2 underground and benefiting from the tax credit.
The Senators’ effort was incorporated in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, which passed in the early morning of Feb. 9 after a nine-hour government shutdown and was signed by Trump later that day. The new law scales the tax credit as high as $ 35 for enhanced oil recovery and $ 50 for other forms of sequestration.
CCS is crucial to climate efforts, Birol said, because fossil fuels are not going away. Even though renewables have become cheaper and are being deployed at increasing rates, the percentage of energy that comes from fossil fuels is about the same as it was 30 years ago, he said–81 percent.
“There is one technology that can bring this fact together with the climate cause, and that is CCS,” Birol said. Investment into carbon capture has so far languished, representing only 0.1 percent of clean-energy investments.
“This is the reason I think this new tax credit in the U.S. may be the driver for it.”
Raquel Loreto is a zombie hunter, and a good one. But traipsing through dried leaves in a hot forest in Sanda, at the southern end of Japan, she needed a guide. Just a few months before, she’d been on the internet and come across the work of artist Shigeo Ootak, whose fantastical images depict humans with curious protrusions erupting from their heads. She got in touch, and he invited her to Japan for a hike to find his inspiration.
Ootak knew precisely where to look: six feet off the ground. And there in a sparse forest, that’s where they found it: the zombie ant, an entrancing species with two long hooks coming out of its back. By now you may have heard its famous tale. A parasitic fungus, known as Ophiocordyceps, invades an ant’s body, growing through its tissues and soaking up nutrients. Then it somehow orders its host to march out of the nest and up a tree above the colony’s trails. The fungus commands the ant to bite onto the vein of a leaf, then kills the thing and grows as a stalk out of the back of its head, turning it into a showerhead raining spores onto victims down below.
That’s how it all goes down in South American forests, where Loreto had already spent plenty of time. But the zombie she found on her hike in Japan was different. First of all, the fungus had driven it higher up a tree. And two, it hadn’t bitten onto a leaf, but had wrapped itself around a twig, hanging upside down.
See, in the tropics, leaves stay on trees all year—but in Japan, they wither and fall. Same goes for zombie ants in the southern United States. By ordering the ant to lock onto a twig, the fungus helps ensure it can stay perched long enough to mature and rain death on more ants. In a study out today in the journal Evolution, Loreto and her colleagues show that divergence between leaf-biting and twig-biting seems to have been a consequence of ancient climate change. So who knows, modern climate change may also do interesting things to the evolution of the parasite.
Come back in time with me 47 million years to an unrecognizable Germany. It’s much hotter and wetter. As such, evergreen forests grow not only up through Europe, but all the way up to the arctic circle. One day, a zombie ant wanders up a tree and bites onto the vein of a leaf, which conveniently enough gets fossilized. Time goes on. The climate cools, and Germany’s wet forests turn temperate.
Almost a decade ago, Penn State entomologist David Hughes looked at that fossil leaf and noticed the tell-tale bite marks of a zombie ant. “Given the fossil evidence in Germany, we know leaf biting occurred then,” say Hughes, a coauthor on the paper. “We suspect that it was also present in North America, and as those populations responded to climate change and the cooling temperature, we see a shift from biting leaves to dying on twigs.”
As vegetation changed from evergreen to deciduous, the fungus found itself in a pickle. But evolution loves a pickle. Ophio adapted independently in Japan and North America to order the ant to seek out twigs, which provided a more reliable, longer-term perch. The fungus grows much slower.
Loreto and Hughes know this thanks to the work of Kim Fleming, a citizen scientist who discovered zombie ant graveyards on her property in South Carolina. She’s been collecting meticulous data for the researchers, scouring the forest for the zombies and marking them with colored tape. “I made a map for myself so I wouldn’t get lost and leave some out,” says Fleming. (For her efforts, she’s now got a species of her very own: Ophiocordyceps kimflemingiae.)
What Fleming helped discover is that while in the tropics the fungus reaches full maturity in one or two months, in temperate climes like hers, the fungus sets up its zombie ant on a twig in June, but doesn’t reach maturity until the next year. In fact, the fungi may actually freeze over the winter. If it were attached to a leaf, it’d tumble to the ground in the fall.
“So it’s almost as if they’ve decided that nothing is going to happen this year, I’m just going to have to sit around because I don’t have time to mature and get spores out,” says Hughes. Plus, the ants hibernate in the winter anyway. Even if the fungus shot spores, there’d be no ants to infect—they’ll all chilling underground in their nest.
Opting for twigs does come with a downside, though: It’s really tough to get good purchase. Until, that is, the fungus initiates a second behavior, ordering the ant to wrap its limbs around the twig, sometimes crossing the legs on the other side of the twig for extra strength. “The hyphae of the fungus growing out of the legs works as glue on the twig as well,” says Loreto. “Sometimes they would even slide down the twig, but they wouldn’t fall.”
It’s hard to imagine how a fungus with no brain could figure this all out, but that’s the power of evolution. And it goes further: In June in temperate climes, the forest is still full of both twigs and leaves, yet the fungus directs zombie ants to lock onto twigs exclusively. And in the Amazon, where it’s lush all year round, they only ever lock onto leaves. “How in the name of … whoever … does the fungus inside the body know what the difference between the leaf and the twig is?” Hughes asks. It always has both options, yet only ever “chooses” one—the best strategy for its particular surroundings.
And so a parasitic manipulation that already defied human credulity grows ever more incredible, far beyond any work of zombie fiction. Your move, Hollywood.
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I’m a baseball fan. When I lived in the Bay Area, I was a season ticket holder to the San Francisco Giants. And every baseball fan knows about Pete Rose, the preternaturally talented player who scandalized his sport when it was revealed he bet on baseball, including games involving his own team. Now, no one is contemplating allowing players or managers to bet on games in their own sport. But the Pete Rose story serves as a grim reminder of what can happen with sports gambling.
The trouble is that sports gambling is fun! The thrill of making some dough on your team just adds to the excitement of the sport. It’s also hugely profitable for business and government. So when the Supreme Court of the United States released their decision on Murphy vs. NCAA last week, the gambling-loving world rejoiced. SCOTUS determined that the 1992 federal law called Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PAPSA) violated the Constitution’s anti-commandeering clause, thus striking down the law.
Mark Conrad is a professor of law and ethics at Fordham University, where he has taught in the School of Law and in the Gabelli School of Business. He’s also the director of Gabelli’s Sports Business Concentration, and is the author of The Business of Sports -; Off the Field, In the Office, On the News. Professor Conrad was kind enough to share with me some of his thoughts on this landmark decision.
1. Nothing’s Actually Changed…Yet.
The Court’s decision caused an avalanche of news and commentary, but, “At the moment, not much has changed,” says Conrad. The decision opened the door to huge change, but nothing is actually different yet. Conrad explains, “The court declared unconstitutional the Federal law that prohibits sports gambling. It did not sanction or permit sports gambling.” So what happens now? Conrad says no one really knows: “It is now up to the states, or the federal government, to decide.” Here’s where it get interesting!
2. The Devil Is in the Details.
“This story is only beginning,” says Conrad, who also has a degree from Columbia’s School of Journalism. “No state has enact a gambling scheme, although New Jersey may soon,” he says. The question is what happens next. For starters, Conrad asks, “Will states legalize it? And if so, which ones, and when?” Next comes the what. Conrad wants to know, “Will it apply to all sports or just pro sports?” And finally, the how. Conrad ponders: “What will be the license fees for companies wishing to do business in the state? Taxes? Anti-corruption measures?” The potential complexities are endless.
3. Congress May Not Be Done.
The Court may have struck down Congress’ PAPSA law, but that doesn’t mean Congress can’t still have the final word. Conrad explains, “The problem with PAPSA was it prevented states from exercising their powers. The law did not mandate a ban on sports gambling – rather, it told the states they were not allowed to enact laws ‘authorizing’ such gambling schemes.” The problem was the way this law was structured, but not the idea behind the law. In fact, Conrad says, “The decision did state that Congress has the power to enact a ban on gambling.” It’s possible Congress could throw some very cold water on all the excitement.
4. Integrity May Be an Issue…Or May Not.
The potential implications for the integrity of sport are fascinating. As with any gambling, there’s risk of corruption. Conrad recalls, “It has occurred in the past, notably in point-shaving in college sports.” But cheating isn’t a given. “In fact, the risk of corruption may decrease with a properly regulated integrity oversight,” Conrad explains. There are examples the US could look to for inspiration. Conrad says, “The UK model has worked well. The betting companies engage in analytics and metric systems to police suspicious gambling patterns and report these anomalies.” The key is not to over-regulate or over-tax it, which may push otherwise legal gambling underground.
5. This Decision Could Have Major Implications for State Versus Federal Authority.
“This is the underlying constitutional issue in this ruling,” Conrad explains. “Ultimately, it is a constitutional law case regarding state powers under the Tenth Amendment.” Here’s his plain-English explanation of the finer constitutional points: “PAPSA was problematic because it ‘commandeered’ states rights. Instead of banning sports gambling, it said could not enact laws authorizing gambling. It’s a subtle difference, but a constitutionally defective one.” This is an important decision in part of a greater shift. According to Conrad, “It continues a trend to give greater deference to state sovereignty.” It will be fascinating to watch as the complexities continue to develop.
LONDON (Reuters) – WhatsApp, the popular messaging service owned by Facebook Inc (FB.O), is raising its minimum age from 13 to 16 in Europe to help it comply with new data privacy rules coming into force next month.
It is not clear how or if the age limit will be checked given the limited data requested and held by the service.
Facebook, which has a separate data policy, is taking a different approach to teens aged between 13 and 15 in order to comply with the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) law.
It is asking them to nominate a parent or guardian to give permission for them to share information on the platform, otherwise they will not see a fully personalized version of the social media platform.
But WhatsApp, which had more than 1.5 billion users in January according to Facebook, said in a blog post it was not asking for any new rights to collect personal information in the agreement it has created for the European Union.
“Our goal is simply to explain how we use and protect the limited information we have about you,” it said.
WhatsApp, founded in 2009, has come under pressure from some European governments in recent years because of its end-to-end encrypted messaging system and its plan to share more data with its parent, Facebook.
Facebook itself is under scrutiny from regulators and lawmakers around the world since disclosing last month that the personal information of millions of users wrongly ended up in the hands of political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, setting off wider concerns about how it handles user data.
WhatsApp’s minimum age of use will remain 13 years in the rest of the world, in line with its parent.
GDPR is the biggest overhaul of online privacy since the birth of the internet, giving Europeans the right to know what data is stored on them and the right to have it deleted.
Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and some other tech firms have said they plan to give people in the United States and elsewhere the same protections and rights that Europeans will gain.
European regulators have already disrupted a move by WhatsApp to change its policies to allow it to share users’ phone numbers and other information with Facebook to help improve the product and more effectively target ads.
WhatsApp suspended the change in Europe after widespread regulatory scrutiny. It said on Tuesday it still wanted to share the data at some point.
“As we have said in the past, we want to work closer with other Facebook companies in the future and we will keep you updated as we develop our plans,” it said.
Other changes announced by WhatsApp on Tuesday include allowing users to download a report detailing the data it holds on them, such as the make and model of the device they used, their contacts and groups and any blocked numbers.
“This feature will be rolling out to all users around the world on the newest version of the app,” it said.
The blog post also points to safety tips on the service, such as the ability to block unwanted users, and delete and report spam.
Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Adrian Croft
The New Year is a beginning and an opportunity to get quiet, slow down and be intentional about what you want your next 365 days to be like. As an entrepreneur, you probably do this for your business, but do you do this for your life?
One year ago I created a tool to help me make sense of where I was and where I wanted to go. It was a wonderful experience and so now I’m excited to share it with you.
Filling out this one sheet of paper was incredibly clarifying for me. Once I finished it, I set it on my desk where I would see it every day. Within 3 months, all of my goals for the year were accomplished – even “the big intimidating one” that I was scared to name.
But here’s the thing – it wasn’t work – instead it felt like magic.
The act of writing things down helps us own our path. Our words and our thoughts are powerful things, and this tool can put those to work for you. Here’s what this process is designed to do:
- Clarify and understand what guides you
- Create an inventory of your life (today as it is now)
- Set your intentions for what you want to create (in the future)
- Get honest about what challenges you face
This is not a difficult process – but it can be. It can be joyful or it can be painful. It is different for everyone. No matter what, I hope this tool brings you clarify and for you. Feel free to share with others. And I hope you enjoy the journey.
And Happy New Year.
Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek
Many traditional fast food restaurants are slowly being left behind.
It’s not that customers don’t crave their greasy goodness.
It’s that many fast food restaurant brands feel a touch old-fashioned and new rivals have come along, offering a heady recipe of a more exciting brand and better food.
This has led the likes of McDonald’s to experiment with, for example, touchscreen ordering.
Never, though, has one of the monolithic fast food brands tried what this KFC is doing.
As the South China Morning Post reports, a KFC-owned restaurant called KPRO — an oddly healthy place that serves salads, panini and fresh juice — is allowing customers to pay with a smile.
I tried getting away with something similar in one or two restaurants during my teens. It didn’t work well, as the owners quickly demanded, well, money. Or else.
Here, though, you walk up to a large screen. You use a touchscreen to select the very healthy food you’d like to quickly consume.
Then you click on the Smile To Pay feature.
It uses facial recognition to decide who you are.
Then it asks you to enter your phone number, for a little extra authentication.
This could be a little awkward if there are people standing behind you.
Don’t these technologists care about privacy? Oh, you know the answer to that one.
Once you’ve ordered, you go and sit down and your food is magically delivered by someone who, one hopes, doesn’t say: “We know where you live.”
KFC worked with Ant Financial, part of the vast Alibaba Group, to create this system, one that will surely make people feel so very modern.
Some might look at the video and think that all this button-pushing and pausing to take a picture isn’t all that fast.
It’s also gloriously impersonal.
Then again, isn’t that what technology would prefer we become? A face and a phone number, rather than, say, a living, breathing, purse-bearing, picky-eating human.
From finger-lickin’ good to face-bearin’ payin’.
This is progress.
Yet another fear among scientists and climate activists has become reality in the era of Trump.
Years of research and data about carbon emissions, other greenhouse gases, and more was hidden from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website by the Trump administration Friday as the climate change webpage goes under “review.”
Adding insult to injury, this comes on the eve of the People’s Climate March.
Climate change activists have been wringing their hands ever since Inauguration Day, fearing that the new administration would do something just like this. The EPA has been chipping away at climate change mentions on its website since January, but Friday’s takedown seems to be the biggest step yet. Read more…