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Wednesday, January 2, 2019



Apple just warned its holiday quarter was a huge miss and the stock is getting crushed (AAPL)

Posted: 02 Jan 2019 01:40 PM PST

Tim Cook adjust glasses bad sad

In a press release on Wednesday, Apple said that its revenue guidance for its first fiscal quarter, which ended in December, was going to be lower than it previously said. 

Apple had previously told investors to expect revenue between $89 billion and $93 billion. 

On Wednesday, it revised that estimate down to $84 billion, 7.6% lower than it previously expected. 

"If you look at our results, our shortfall is over 100% from iPhone and it is primarily in greater China," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in an interview on CNBC.

"So we have sort of a collection of items going on some that are macroeconomic and some Apple specific," he continued. 

Apple stock declined over 8% in after hours trading.

Here's the entire letter:

To Apple investors:

Today we are revising our guidance for Apple’s fiscal 2019 first quarter, which ended on December 29. We now expect the following:

Revenue of approximately $84 billion
Gross margin of approximately 38 percent
Operating expenses of approximately $8.7 billion
Other income/(expense) of approximately $550 million
Tax rate of approximately 16.5 percent before discrete items
We expect the number of shares used in computing diluted EPS to be approximately 4.77 billion.

Based on these estimates, our revenue will be lower than our original guidance for the quarter, with other items remaining broadly in line with our guidance.

While it will be a number of weeks before we complete and report our final results, we wanted to get some preliminary information to you now. Our final results may differ somewhat from these preliminary estimates.

When we discussed our Q1 guidance with you about 60 days ago, we knew the first quarter would be impacted by both macroeconomic and Apple-specific factors. Based on our best estimates of how these would play out, we predicted that we would report slight revenue growth year-over-year for the quarter. As you may recall, we discussed four factors:

First, we knew the different timing of our iPhone launches would affect our year-over-year compares. Our top models, iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, shipped in Q4’18 — placing the channel fill and early sales in that quarter, whereas last year iPhone X shipped in Q1’18, placing the channel fill and early sales in the December quarter. We knew this would create a difficult compare for Q1’19, and this played out broadly in line with our expectations.

Second, we knew the strong US dollar would create foreign exchange headwinds and forecasted this would reduce our revenue growth by about 200 basis points as compared to the previous year. This also played out broadly in line with our expectations.

Third, we knew we had an unprecedented number of new products to ramp during the quarter and predicted that supply constraints would gate our sales of certain products during Q1. Again, this also played out broadly in line with our expectations. Sales of Apple Watch Series 4 and iPad Pro were constrained much or all of the quarter. AirPods and MacBook Air were also constrained.

Fourth, we expected economic weakness in some emerging markets. This turned out to have a significantly greater impact than we had projected.

In addition, these and other factors resulted in fewer iPhone upgrades than we had anticipated.

These last two points have led us to reduce our revenue guidance. I’d like to go a bit deeper on both.

Emerging Market Challenges

While we anticipated some challenges in key emerging markets, we did not foresee the magnitude of the economic deceleration, particularly in Greater China. In fact, most of our revenue shortfall to our guidance, and over 100 percent of our year-over-year worldwide revenue decline, occurred in Greater China across iPhone, Mac and iPad.

China’s economy began to slow in the second half of 2018. The government-reported GDP growth during the September quarter was the second lowest in the last 25 years. We believe the economic environment in China has been further impacted by rising trade tensions with the United States. As the climate of mounting uncertainty weighed on financial markets, the effects appeared to reach consumers as well, with traffic to our retail stores and our channel partners in China declining as the quarter progressed. And market data has shown that the contraction in Greater China’s smartphone market has been particularly sharp.

Despite these challenges, we believe that our business in China has a bright future. The iOS developer community in China is among the most innovative, creative and vibrant in the world. Our products enjoy a strong following among customers, with a very high level of engagement and satisfaction. Our results in China include a new record for Services revenue, and our installed base of devices grew over the last year. We are proud to participate in the Chinese marketplace.


Lower than anticipated iPhone revenue, primarily in Greater China, accounts for all of our revenue shortfall to our guidance and for much more than our entire year-over-year revenue decline. In fact, categories outside of iPhone (Services, Mac, iPad, Wearables/Home/Accessories) combined to grow almost 19 percent year-over-year.

While Greater China and other emerging markets accounted for the vast majority of the year-over-year iPhone revenue decline, in some developed markets, iPhone upgrades also were not as strong as we thought they would be. While macroeconomic challenges in some markets were a key contributor to this trend, we believe there are other factors broadly impacting our iPhone performance, including consumers adapting to a world with fewer carrier subsidies, US dollar strength-related price increases, and some customers taking advantage of significantly reduced pricing for iPhone battery replacements.

Many Positive Results in the December Quarter

While it’s disappointing to revise our guidance, our performance in many areas showed remarkable strength in spite of these challenges.

Our installed base of active devices hit a new all-time high—growing by more than 100 million units in 12 months. There are more Apple devices being used than ever before, and it’s a testament to the ongoing loyalty, satisfaction and engagement of our customers.

Also, as I mentioned earlier, revenue outside of our iPhone business grew by almost 19 percent year-over-year, including all-time record revenue from Services, Wearables and Mac. Our non-iPhone businesses have less exposure to emerging markets, and the vast majority of Services revenue is related to the size of the installed base, not current period sales.

Services generated over $10.8 billion in revenue during the quarter, growing to a new quarterly record in every geographic segment, and we are on track to achieve our goal of doubling the size of this business from 2016 to 2020.

Wearables grew by almost 50 percent year-over-year, as Apple Watch and AirPods were wildly popular among holiday shoppers; launches of MacBook Air and Mac mini powered the Mac to year-over-year revenue growth and the launch of the new iPad Pro drove iPad to year-over-year double-digit revenue growth.

We also expect to set all-time revenue records in several developed countries, including the United States, Canada, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and Korea. And, while we saw challenges in some emerging markets, others set records, including Mexico, Poland, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Finally, we also expect to report a new all-time record for Apple’s earnings per share.

Looking Ahead

Our profitability and cash flow generation are strong, and we expect to exit the quarter with approximately $130 billion in net cash. As we have stated before, we plan to become net-cash neutral over time.

As we exit a challenging quarter, we are as confident as ever in the fundamental strength of our business. We manage Apple for the long term, and Apple has always used periods of adversity to re-examine our approach, to take advantage of our culture of flexibility, adaptability and creativity, and to emerge better as a result.

Most importantly, we are confident and excited about our pipeline of future products and services. Apple innovates like no other company on earth, and we are not taking our foot off the gas.

We can’t change macroeconomic conditions, but we are undertaking and accelerating other initiatives to improve our results. One such initiative is making it simple to trade in a phone in our stores, finance the purchase over time, and get help transferring data from the current to the new phone. This is not only great for the environment, it is great for the customer, as their existing phone acts as a subsidy for their new phone, and it is great for developers, as it can help grow our installed base.

This is one of a number of steps we are taking to respond. We can make these adjustments because Apple’s strength is in our resilience, the talent and creativity of our team, and the deeply held passion for the work we do every day.

Expectations are high for Apple because they should be. We are committed to exceeding those expectations every day.

That has always been the Apple way, and it always will be.



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How smart is your fridge? Smart appliances have built-in sensors to tell consumers when to buy more groceries — or even buy them automatically (AMZN, TGT, GOOGL, WMT, GE)

Posted: 02 Jan 2019 01:07 PM PST

This is a preview of a research report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about Business Insider Intelligence, click here. Current subscribers can read the report here.

Smart speakers in shoppingConsumers are finally starting to adopt smart home devices, with nearly 60% owning at least one device. This presents an opportunity for e-commerce companies to enter the smart home and encourage purchasing through the devices.

The smart speaker has become the face of the smart home in many ways, attracting the lion's share of attention as companies look for ways to take advantage of the growing platform. But there's a problem: Consumers aren't using the smart speaker to actually buy products very often.

Instead, one of the clearest opportunities outside of the smart speaker is home goods and grocery replenishment through large appliances. Smart devices in the home — especially appliances — can take advantage of built-in sensors to either tell consumers when they need to buy more of a product, or make that purchase autonomously. This will create an opportunity for appliance manufacturers, e-commerce vendors, and product suppliers to ink supply agreements to meet consumers' needs.

In this report, Business Insider Intelligence examines several areas of opportunity for e-commerce companies to leverage smart home technologies to provide new and better services to their customers. First, we explore how smart appliances, including connected dishwashers and laundry machines, are building on one-click purchasing systems to enable automated replenishment. We then discuss the smart fridge and detail how apps, cameras, and voice assistants are enabling takeout and grocery delivery through these appliances. Finally, we examine the role of the voice interface beyond smart speakers as it relates to purchasing products in the home, and how omnipresent voice will be used to organize and interact with automated services.

The companies mentioned in this report are: Amazon, Blue Apron, Costo, GE, Google, Instacart, Keurig, KitchenAid, LG, Ocado, P&G, Plated, Reynolds, Samsung, Target, Walmart, Whirlpool.

 Here are some key takeaways from the report:

  • Companies have a clear opportunity to leverage sensors, cameras, and connectivity in a variety of home appliances to revolutionize the way consumers buy home goods.
  • Smart appliance manufacturers, e-tailers, and CPG companies will be able to collaborate and partner to develop new methods of resupplying consumers' homes.
  • The smart fridge will transform into the hub of the kitchen and become the autonomous organizing device that oversees grocery purchasing and food delivery.

In full, the report:

  • Provides an overview of the key players and types of products in the smart appliance space.
  • Highlights the models that companies can adopt to take advantage of the developing sector.
  • Identifies the key services that will boost automated e-commerce engagement in the home.


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Uber's original pitch deck from a decade ago shows just how much the ride-hailing giant has changed

Posted: 02 Jan 2019 12:50 PM PST

Travis Kalanick

  • Uber, now a decade old, could be worth as much as $120 billion when it goes public this year.
  • The company has grown significantly since the idea was first pitched by founder Garrett Camp.
  • Business Insider is publishing the original pitch deck for UberCab to show how much the company has changed in the years since.

Uber is racing towards a massive initial public offering this year.

Those plans — and a reported confidential filing with the top US stock-market regulator — have spurred wild speculation on Wall Street, with some analysts betting the company could be worth as much as $120 billion.

But Uber, now nearly 10 years old, wasn't always a network of more than 2 million drivers providing rides at the tap of a button in 63 countries around the world. Back in August 2008, the dream of a "next generation car service" was merely a slideshow presentation on founder Garrett Camp's computer.

Business Insider has covered the original pitch deck before, when Camp first published it on Medium in 2017, but we felt it deserved a fresh look in light of a year marked by expansion into new products like grocery delivery, the rise of Uber Eats as one of the company's fastest-growing businesses, and a troubled year for the Advanced Technologies Group, where Uber is developing its fleet of self-driving taxis.

Here's how the founders envisioned Uber 10 years ago:

SEE ALSO: Leaked Uber employee survey shows what it's really like to work at the company ahead of its massive IPO

The very first slide is a time capsule from 2008. Yes, that's a BlackBerry.

10 years ago, hailing a cab was a very different affair.

While Camp highlighted "dead-time" with cabs, a 2018 report by Schaller Consulting found that for-hire vehicles drive an average of 2.1 miles without passengers between fares.

Also, most New York cabs are now Toyota Camrys, which the city estimates to have an environmental rating of 25 miles per gallon.

Uber has decimated the value of taxi medallions.

After the expansion of Uber in New York, the value of taxi medallions — limited amounts of which are sold at auction by the city — has plummeted by nearly 75%. And, of course, street-hailing is vital for those without smartphones or a credit/debit card.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

The 29 best tech companies to work for in 2019, according to employees

Posted: 02 Jan 2019 12:43 PM PST


  • Every year, the jobs and recruiting site Glassdoor ranks the top 100 companies to work for, based on employee reviews and ratings.
  • Of the top 100 large companies to work for this year, 29 were tech companies.
  • Below, we've compiled Glassdoor's 2019 list of The Best Places to Work in tech.

New year, new... job?  

Glassdoor recently revealed its annual list of The 100 Best Places to Work in 2019, which could help those looking to make a move. The ranking was decided based on employee reviews and ratings on Glassdoor, and of the 100 best-reviewed companies to work at, 29 were tech companies.

Some are household names, like Facebook — which was #1 on the 2018 list but dropped several spots following a scandal-filled year. Others companies that made the cut are lesser known but are still providing exceptional experiences for their employees. 

Here is Glassdoor's 2019 list of the best places to work in tech:

29. World Wide Technology

Overall ranking: #99 

Company rating: 4.2 

What it does: Technology consulting 

What employees say: "Bar none, THE BEST place I have ever worked." — World Wide Technology Senior Consultant (Denver, Colorado)


28. Expedia Group

Overall ranking: #92

Company rating: 4.2

What it does: Travel technology 

What employees say: "Expedia is the best place to work. I have been here for 11 months and enjoying every single day. The culture is upbeat, leadership is transparent, clear on direction, very well organized process oriented company. Awesome work life balance." Expedia Software Engineering Manager (Chicago, Illinois)

27. HP Inc.

Overall ranking: #87

Company rating: 4.2

What it does: Maker of laptops, PC desktops, printers, and more. 

What employees say: "HP's global footprint makes it unique in allowing you to have a BIG impact. Senior leaders are quality execs who've proven their mettle. Lots of opportunity to contribute given the size of the businesses." — Anonymous HP Employee 

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

A Tesla owner used his Model X to prove he could 'de-ICE' any trucks that block Superchargers (TSLA)

Posted: 02 Jan 2019 12:26 PM PST

Tesla Model X vs Chevy SIlverado

De-ICE-ing is happening at more places than just airports.

Last week, Business Insider reported on a spate of truck drivers parking in Tesla Supercharger spots and, in at least one case, harassing a Tesla owner. Other electric-vehicle drivers have come to call these incidents "ICE-ing," an acronym for internal combustion engine.

That spurred an idea for Patrick Lawson: What if he could tow a gas-burning car out of the way if it was blocking a charger? And that's exactly what he set out to see.

Using his sister's Chevrolet Silverado 1500 pickup truck at the Loveland, Colorado, Supercharger, Patrick successfully moved the 5,000-pound truck.

Read more: Truck owners are blocking Tesla Superchargers in 'ICE-ing' protests

"It actually turned out to be incredibly easy to tow a pickup truck with a Tesla Model X," Lawson said in a YouTube video about the test, which was first reported by the blog Teslarati. "I was going kind of slow to make sure we didn't break anything or hit the curb or Supercharger. The car didn't struggle in any way shape or form."

Icy conditions (no pun intended) may have helped the towing, he said. The manual parking brake was not applied to the truck, though its automatic transmission was in park.

"I just keep seeing videos of people ICE-ing, and figured this would be a good de-ICE-ing video," Lawson said. "All of us Tesla owners are super nice guys, and we don't want any confrontation with these jerks that are blocking Superchargers."

"If you need to, show them this video. If anything, they're just a minor inconvenience," he continued.

Have you experienced any issues at a Tesla charger? Let me know at

SEE ALSO: Truck owners are blocking Tesla Superchargers in 'ICE-ing' protests

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How to know if you're living in a 'smart city'

Posted: 02 Jan 2019 12:10 PM PST

Mastercard Post 1 Helsinki

  • As more people live in cities than ever before, improving them takes on added urgency.
  • In becoming 'smart,' cities often first tackle projects that affect the largest number of people, like transportation and WiFi access.
  • 'Smart' cities are also known for exchanging ideas with other cities.

If you want to know what a "smart city" looks like, ask Bob Bennett.

As the chief innovation officer for Kansas City, Missouri, Bennett can cite each technological advancement hiding in plain sight around the city of 500,000.

For example, along the city's 54-block smart-streetcar route, there are 320 WiFi access points and more than two-dozen smart kiosks. One hundred and seventy-eight traffic sensors monitor commuter flow, aided by 52 traffic lights in constant sync. 

All of this has the immediate effect of getting people where they need to go as quickly, efficiently, and safely as possible. In the bigger picture, the city is also able to extract insights from each of these "smart" touchpoints, and use those insights to understand which communities are underserved by WiFi access and public transit routes.

And while the numbers of each type of technology are impressive, Bennett emphasizes that it's not the volume of innovation that makes a city "smart."

"There's no such thing as a 'dumb city' in America," he says. "There are only cities getting smarter. And we can make that a more rapid progression by sharing what we have."

Those two-dozen smart kiosks, for example? They're an idea borrowed from New York. And Kansas City's streetlights are a feature first tested in San Diego, California.

Smart cities share

Today, over half of the world's population lives in cities — a number that the United Nations expects to grow to close to 70% by 2050. With its City Possible program, Mastercard aims to help cities respond to this trend in a collective way.

City Possible is building a global network for urban co-development, by bringing together cities, academics, NGOs, and industry partners. One of the first insights that surfaced from this dialogue: cities have a lot in common — for example, they are all challenged to upgrade their physical and digital infrastructure to keep up with growing needs.

"Cities have a tremendous opportunity to learn from other cities," says Miguel Gamiño Jr., the executive vice president and head of global cities for Mastercard. "They should absolutely tap into what I call the 'superpower of collaboration.'"

Cities on the move

Smart-city improvements often begin in the mobility sector. That's because the people administering the improvements feel the imperative to demonstrate visible, everyday impact.

"You have to touch everybody if you're going to truly transform a community," Bennett says. "Every Kansas Citian and every visitor touches the transportation network every single day."

In Dublin, Ireland, dynamically updating public-transit information was the earliest and most visible transformation, says Jamie Cudden, the Smart City Program manager for the Dublin City Council. Automatic Vehicle Location technology powers smartphone alerts telling commuters when to leave their homes for buses, trams, and trains.

"Using emerging technologies and connected devices helps us to better understand the wider real-time city environment," Cudden says.

A strong signal

A recent study by the University of Maryland, College Park found that residents of West Baltimore, when asked what city improvements would most improve their daily lives, cited free WiFi availability on city buses. Thirty-nine percent of respondents don't have internet access on home computers, so WiFi-enabled buses could allow students to complete homework while commuting.

Baltimore, another participant in the City Possible program, sits at the intersection of three important factors in the smart-city movement: public transportation, digital inclusion, and listening to what the public wants and needs.

"'Smart' should never be an end in itself," says Mastercard's Gamiño. "'Smart' should always be a means to achieve the outcomes that matter most to people living in a city."

Look for the 'Lab'

Another sign that your city is getting smarter: a city-operated testing environment labeled a "Lab."

The willingness to experiment and innovate is key to breaking away from the patterns that can hold cities back. That's what happens at Melbourne, Australia's CityLab, where population growth and climate change are focal areas.

In Kansas City, many ideas originate from the Living Lab, a public-private partnership in which developers test more and more applications of Internet of Things technologies to city life.

Meanwhile, in Helsinki, Finland, the lab concept has expanded to encompass an entire residential district known as "Smart Kalasatama." The district is home to 3,000 residents who are the first to test pilot programs that, if successful, can be expanded to improve city services and quality of life in the larger city, along with other cities outside Finland.

In Kalasatama, a wellness initiative monitors residents' stress levels via "smart rings," while virtual reality combats anxiety with soothing audio and visuals. For a more traditional example, plans for transportation efficiency were disregarded unless they could give each resident back an hour of their day.

The district is expected to expand to 20,000 residents by 2030.

Something else that's expanding: the City Possible network. Interested applicants can reach the City Possible team here to find out how they can join Kansas City, San Diego, Dublin, Baltimore, Melbourne, Helsinki, and a growing list of global member cities of all sizes.

"Most cities share common concerns and want to provide things like safety, cleanliness, affordability, and economic opportunity," says Gamiño, who's eager to see where City Possible goes in its second year. "For me, the biggest opportunity of 'smart cities' is to make tech truly work for people."

Find out more about how Mastercard is helping to build more inclusive cities.

This post is sponsored by Mastercard.

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The shrinking traditional TV market is already leading to more blackouts, and could soon start killing cable channels altogether

Posted: 02 Jan 2019 12:02 PM PST

Screen Shot 2019 01 02 at 2.54.05 PM

  • The rise of cord-cutting (people ditching cable packages for cheaper digital options) is beginning to reduce financial margins at cable and satellite providers, and channels that aren't driving a lot of viewership are paying the price.
  • Small niche channels, like Fuse, are the most susceptible to being dropped.

Cable and satellite companies are struggling to reach deals with TV channels over how much they should have to pay for the content those channels provide.

Why it matters: These disputes, driven by a shrinking traditional TV market, are leading to more programming blackouts for consumers, and could be forcing some smaller, niche cable channels out of business altogether.

Driving the news: Both Comcast and Verizon FiOS (Verizon's cable arm) announced ahead of the New Year that they will drop Fuse, the music-oriented cable channel that's backed by Jennifer Lopez, on Dec. 31.

  • Comcast said Fuse is "similar to content that also is available on other networks" that it carries, like BET or Pop. Verizon said Fuse was getting too expensive for the viewership it was driving.
  • Fuse CEO Michael Schwimmer alluded to a recently-expired Department of Justice consent decree from the 2011 Comcast/NBCU merger as part of Comcast's decision to drop the channel. He said Verizon's actions were "inconsistent" with its public posture regarding diversity.

Between the lines: Fuse isn't the only content provider to lose or risk losing distribution as telecom companies reevaluate what content to include in bundles.

  • FiOS and Disney came very close to being unable to reach an agreement ahead of the New Year's Day deadline, avoiding what would have been a programming blackout of Disney channels, including ESPN, for consumers.
  • So did Charter’s Spectrum and Tribune Media. The companies agreed to extend a New Year's Day deadline to renegotiate their contract to this Wednesday, dodging what would have been a programming blackout of lots of local TV stations for millions of Spectrum customers across the U.S.
  • Dish Network has yet to reach an agreement after several months with both Univision and HBO over distribution costs. Dish CEO Charlie Ergen told analysts in August that the dispute between Dish and Univision is "probably permanent."

The big picture: The rise of cord-cutting (people ditching cable packages for cheaper digital options) is beginning to reduce financial margins at cable and satellite providers, and channels that aren't driving a lot of viewership are paying the price.

  • Be smart: Small niche channels, like Fuse, are the most susceptible to being dropped.

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Here's how much Facebook knows about you

Posted: 02 Jan 2019 11:52 AM PST

Screen Shot 2019 01 02 at 2.46.37 PM

  • Facebook's privacy policies reinforce the message that "you have control over who sees what you share on Facebook."
  • But if you use Facebook at all, you don't have much control over what Facebook itself sees about you.

On Facebook's map of humanity, the node for "you" often includes vast awareness of your movements online and a surprising amount of info about what you do offline, too.

The big picture: Even when you're cautious about sharing, Facebook's dossier on you will be hefty. Facebook tackles its mission of "bringing the world closer together" by creating a map of humanity, and each of us represents a tiny node on this "social graph.

Assembling your profile: This is where your Facebook presence begins.

  • When you create an account, Facebook asks for your name and birthdate, along with either a phone number or e-mail.
  • Then there's all the information you give Facebook as you fill out your profile, potentially including schools, current and past occupations, relationship status, hometown and current city, as well as your physical address, birth name, web site and other social links.
  • All of this forms the core of the profile Facebook uses to serve you ads. It's why you see offers for clever T-shirts based on your college or job.

Following what you do on Facebook: The company has near-total awareness of every move you make on its website or in its apps, including:

  • When you log in, how long you spend online and where you are logging in from — hence it can welcome you to new cities and suggest places to visit and eat (and also serve up local ads).
  • Places you check in.
  • The pages, accounts, and hashtags you connect with on Facebook — and not just who you are connected with, but how often you interact and for how long.
  • Your contacts, if you choose to upload your phone book or call history.
  • Things you buy directly from or through Facebook, but also things you may not think about, like the metadata from photos you upload.
  • Your friends can tag you in posts and photos, which gives Facebook additional information. (You can choose to have this displayed publicly or not via privacy settings.)

Following what you say on Facebook Messenger: Facebook does scan your chat messages, but it isn't exactly reading them— it runs an automated scan for child pornography and other banned content.

  • Messenger can collect information on who you talk to, how often and for how long, as well as phone history if users opt in. But the company says it isn't serving ads based on the content of users' messages.
  • It also has an option for users to encrypt their messages, but this is turned off by default.

Following you outside Facebook: Facebook sees you less thoroughly outside its own digital turf, but it still sees a lot. This data comes from two places: partner services and third-party information brokers.

  • Facebook has tools that partner websites use to integrate with Facebook, including the inclusion of "Like" and "Share" buttons, as well as a tracking cookie known as Facebook Pixel.
  • Thanks to an inquiry from Britain's Parliament, we have a sense of how prevalent these methods are. According to Facebook, between April 9 and April 16 of 2018 there were 2.2 million Facebook Pixels, 8.4 million pages with a Like button and 931,000 pages with a button to Share on Facebook.
  • Facebook knows your location, even if you haven't directly given it permission to access your phone's GPS, by tracking the IP address of the phones, computers and other devices you use to access its servers.
  • Facebook also reserves the right to enhance its data trove by adding information from outside providers, though it has ended one program that mixed Facebook and third-party data for advertisers. From its policy page: “We also receive information about your online and offline actions and purchases from third-party data providers who have the rights to provide us with your information. “

Following you across your apps: Many apps are connected to Facebook, including through its popular Facebook Login feature, which uses your Facebook account as a shortcut for you to sign in.

  • Developers can also use this system to get your permission to access Facebook data. In addition to iOS and Android, it also works across the web and on some smart TVs.
  • Integrating Facebook was once a way for outside apps to get a lot of info about you, but Facebook has tightened that up considerably, setting rules and instituting a review process for apps that want anything beyond basic identity information.

Following you at home and around town: Facebook's new Portal video chat system is basically a camera that lives in your home.

What Facebook does with all this data: Facebook says, emphatically, that it doesn't sell your information.

  • It does use the data to sell you to advertisers who set criteria for people they want to target. The more the company knows about you, the more valuable those advertisements can be.
  • It also uses the information to enhance its social graph, which it uses to build new features and products, and to power its suggestions of "People you may know."

What Facebook doesn't know about you: Facebook insists it doesn't monitor your phone calls or secretly record you via microphone, despite long-running suspicions to the contrary.

The bottom line: Facebook's privacy policies reinforce the message that "you have control over who sees what you share on Facebook." But if you use Facebook at all, you don't have much control over what Facebook itself sees about you.

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The CEO of China's dominant internet search company gave employees an alarming New Year message: 'Winter is coming' (BIDU, GOOG)

Posted: 02 Jan 2019 11:48 AM PST

Robin Li Baidu

  • In a letter to employees on Tuesday, the chief exec of China's largest search engine, Baidu, warned that "winter is coming." 
  • CEO Robin Li Yanhong stated that economic restructuring is "as cold and real as winter to every company." 
  • The warning comes as China's economy has seen its slowest growth in decades and trade wars with the US have caused instability in the tech industry, according to The South China Morning Post report

"Winter is coming" according to the chief exec of China's largest search engine, Baidu. 

CEO Robin Li Yanhong delivered the warning to Baidu employees in a first-of-the-year letter on Tuesday, as reported by The South China Morning Post

The warning comes as China's economy has seen its slowest growth in decades and trade wars with the US have caused instability in the tech industry, according to the report.

Economic restructuring is "as cold and real as winter to every company," Li wrote. 

Still, the chief exec reportedly remains hopeful for the coming year, citing a Chinese proverb that teaches the value of hard times. “Only when the year grows cold do we see the qualities of the pine and the cypress," Li explained to employees. “It’s high time that Baidu stepped forward as a platform company.”

Often described as the "Google of China," Baidu dominates the Chinese search market while the real, US-based Google has struggled to find a China strategy since famously pulling out of the country in 2010. News surfaced this year that Google was working on a censored search engine for China, the world's largest internet market by users, but the company appears to have sidelined the project following an employee backlash.

Read more: Google is likely to end its efforts to build a censored search engine for China, says report

Despite China's economic slowdown, analysts predict Baidu's annual revenue increased by 20% in 2018, according to the report. 

SEE ALSO: This media veteran's 153-slide presentation outlines the most important tech and media trends you need to know about in 2019

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NOW WATCH: Why it's so difficult to land a spacecraft on Mars

NASA just released the first close-up photos of the farthest object humanity has ever explored — and it looks like a giant red snowman

Posted: 02 Jan 2019 11:40 AM PST

ultima thule new horizons 2014 mu69 kuiper belt nasa jhuapl swri steve gribben

  • Scientists flew the New Horizons probe past a space rock called 2014 MU69 on New Year's Day.
  • MU69 (nicknamed Ultima Thule) is 4 billion miles from Earth and the most distant object humanity has ever explored.
  • NASA's spacecraft recorded hundreds of photos of MU69, and researchers just unveiled the first images of the object.
  • The pictures show MU69 is reddish in color and shaped like a snowman.
  • Getting all of the flyby data could take about two years, but the resulting information may reveal how planets formed in our solar system some 4.5 billion years ago.

On New Year's Day, scientists flew NASA's nuclear-powered New Horizons probe past a mysterious, mountain-sized object.

The space rock is known formally as (486958) 2014 MU69, though it's more commonly referred to as "Ultima Thule" (a nickname that has garnered some controversy — see editor's note below). It's located more than 4 billion miles from Earth and 1 billion miles beyond Pluto, making MU69 the farthest object humanity has ever explored up close.

New Horizons recorded hundreds of photos in a highly choreographed flyby at 32,200 miles per hour, and it came within about 2,200 miles of MU69. On Wednesday, researchers giddily revealed the first photographic spoils of their unprecedented mission.

"It's a snowman," Alan Stern, who leads the New Horizons mission, said of the object's shape during a press conference on Wednesday.

Ultima thule snowman

Stern explained that MU69 appears to be what's technically called a contact binary, or "two completely separate objects now joined together."

Jeff Moore, the coinvestigator of the New Horizons mission, said during the briefing that the two lobes of MU69 likely smooshed together at a speed so slow that if it were a vehicle crash, you wouldn't even have to call your car-insurance company.

ultima thule

Another NASA scientist referred to it is as a bilobate comet that has never journeyed near the sun.

No one really knew what MU69 looked like until this week. Fuzzy images captured before the flyby led some scientists to guess it was an elongated object, shaped like a bowling pin or peanut, or two objects caught in tight orbit with each other.

The first low-resolution pictures beamed to Earth from New Horizons show MU69 is one object formed from two separate ones and has reddish coloring. Scientists compared the hue with that of Pluto's moon, Charon.

Ultima Thule Charon

"We can definitely say Ultima Thule is red," Carly Howett, a coinvestigator of the New Horizons mission, said during the briefing.

New Horizons team members are expecting to get the highest-resolution color photos in February, Stern previously told Business Insider. He also said the team would start writing its first scientific paper (based on the data it already has) next week.

ultima thule

"This is going to revolutionize our knowledge of planetary science," Stern said of the flyby.

An unprecedented bonus mission beyond Pluto

The mission to fly past MU69 was as surprising as it was ambitious.

When NASA launched New Horizons toward Pluto in 2006, nobody knew MU69 existed. There wasn't even a reliable way to detect the object until astronauts plugged an upgraded camera into the Hubble Space Telescope in 2009.

kuiper belt objects kbos pluto new horizons flight path ultima thule 2014 mu69 alex parker jhuapl swri

New Horizons achieved the first-ever visit to Pluto in 2015. Once the probe finished that main mission, it coasted farther into a zone called the Kuiper Belt. In this cold and icy region, sunlight is about as weak as the light from a full moon on Earth. At that distance, frozen leftovers of the solar system's formation called Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs) lurk in vast numbers. (Pluto is one of them.)

MU69 is one of these pristine remnants. It has presumably remained in its distant and icy orbit for billions of years.

MU69 is "the most primitive object that has yet been seen by any spacecraft," Moore said during the Wednesday briefing. Each of its two lobes were formed within thousands or millions of years of the solar system's formation, he added.

The unprecedented data acquired by New Horizons could, therefore, reveal new clues about how the solar system evolved to form planets like Earth.

"Ultima is the first thing we've been to that is not big enough to have a geological engine like a planet, and also something that's never been warmed greatly by the sun," Stern previously told Business Insider. "It's like a time capsule from 4.5 billion years ago. That's what makes it so special."

He compared the flyby to an archaeological dig in Egypt.

"It's like the first time someone opened up the pharaoh's tomb and went inside, and you see what the culture was like 1,000 years ago," he said. "Except this is exploring the dawn of the solar system."

asteroids asteroid field star nasa jpl 717846main_pia16610_full

Another analogy: Stern said he thinks of MU69 as a "planetary embryo," since it's a building block of larger planets that never became one.

"In that sense, it's like a paleontologist finding the fossilized embryo of a dinosaur," Stern said. "It has a very special value."

The long wait for more New Horizons data

new horizons rtg

"What is striking home with me is that we can build a spacecraft on Earth, and we send it out billions of miles away from Earth, and it sends us back all this wonderful data that we get to look at and learn more about our world, our solar system," Alice Bowman, the New Horizons mission operations manager, said during Tuesday's press conference.

According to Stern, the first images New Horizons captured during the flyby each took two hours to transmit. Then each bit of data, moving at the speed of light as radio waves, took about six hours to reach antennas on Earth.

Although the first images are now public, it will take much longer to receive the most detailed, full-resolution images because of physical limitations of the New Horizons spacecraft and its location. It may take 20 months to download all of the probe's data.

Part of the reason it will take so long is because the output of the spacecraft's radio antenna is now about 15 watts — or one-quarter of a standard light bulb's power — and it's broadcasting from 4 billion miles away.

'10,000 times harder than reaching Pluto'

This flyby was dramatically more difficult than New Horizons' Pluto visit, Stern said.

pluto dwarf planet charon moon new horizons nasa jhuapl swri

"Rendezvousing with something the size of a large, filthy mountain covered in dirt, a billion miles away from Pluto, and honing in on it is about 10,000 times harder than reaching Pluto," Stern said. "That's because it's about 10,000 times smaller. The achievement of getting to it is unbelievable."

Pinpointing exactly where MU69 would be in space when New Horizons could fly near it required a "two and a half week odyssey" of telescopic observations around the world, mission scientist Simon Porter said on Twitter.

To see MU69 block the light of a distant star — a way to confirm the space rock's precise orbit — the researchers had to fly an airplane-mounted telescope called SOFIA and deploy dozens of telescopes in Argentina.

In a New York Times op-ed published on New Year's Eve, Stern described the encounter as "mind-boggling."

"As you celebrate New Year's Day, cast an eye upward and think for a moment about the amazing things our country and our species can do when we set our minds to it," Stern wrote.

Editor's note: After a public campaign, the New Horizons team selected Ultima Thule as a nickname for (486958) 2014 MU69. However, we've de-emphasized it here because the Nazi party used the word "Thule" as a tenet of its ideology.

SEE ALSO: Is it Planet 9 or Planet X? Scientists spar over what to call the solar system's hypothetical missing world

DON'T MISS: Pluto is hiding a gigantic liquid ocean you would never, ever want to swim in

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NOW WATCH: NASA has over 100 images of Pluto — and the footage is breathtaking

Hold on to your current smartphone for as long as you can

Posted: 02 Jan 2019 11:14 AM PST

iphone x

  • Smartphones are really expensive right now.
  • Two years ago, the starting price of the newest iPhone was $649. Today, the iPhone XR starts at $749, and the iPhone XS starts at $1,000.
  • Other top phone makers have raised their prices in response to the iPhone. Google's Pixel 3 XL starts at $900, LG's V40 Thinq starts around $950, and Samsung's Galaxy Note 9 starts at $1,000.
  • Holding onto your current smartphone for as long as possible ensures you get the most value for your purchase — and it sends a strong signal to phone makers as well.

SEE ALSO: The 10 best smartphones made in 2018 that are worth your money

Apple shocked the world in 2017 when it unveiled the iPhone X.

But people were more shocked by the phone's starting price of $1,000, than by its radical redesign.

Still, Apple's strategy worked: Customers loved the iPhone X, despite it having a higher starting price than ever before.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

I checked out an ultra-exclusive $1.75 million Ferrari Monza SP1 that looks like it's straight out of a sci-fi movie. Here's what it was like. (RACE)

Posted: 02 Jan 2019 11:11 AM PST

Ferrari Monza SP1

  • The Ferrari Monza SP1 and SP2 are part of a new Icona lineup.
  • The cars evoke classic racing Ferraris of the past — and they're priced for exclusivity, at nearly $2 million.
  • They're "barchetta" designs, with no windshields but with available Ferrari-branded carbon-fiber helmets.

Ferraris are already exclusive, but there are some Ferraris that are more exclusive than others.

The newest prancing horses to join the stable are the Icona Monza SP1 and SP2. Only 500 will be produced, and they're set to priced around $1.75 million apiece. 

The Monzas evoke Ferraris long, long history in racing. "The ... SP1 and SP2 are inspired by barchettas of the 1950s which were driven to victory in international motor sport not just by official works team drivers from the Scuderia, but also by a legion of gentlemen drivers who, in those years, frequently found themselves wheel to wheel with legendary professional drivers of the era," the Italian carmaker said last year when the due was revealed.

I recently had a chance to drop by Ferrari's North American headquarters to check out the Monza SP1. Here's how it went:


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The Monza SP1 is a "barchetta" ("little boast" in Italian). You'll need a helmet with a face-shield. Or goggles. Or some very fashionable sunglasses. Because the Monza has no top and no windshield.

The SP1 has a partner in style: the SP2, adding a seat. Both cars are Ferrari specials, and only 500 will be built, all based off customer specifications. Ferrari announced the cars last year.

Ferrari brought this impeccable example of the 750 Monza from 1955 to its North American HQ to celebrate the new Monza SP1 and SP2 — together they form the basis of ...

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

This $200 portable fire pit is fan-controlled, nearly smokeless, and my new favorite outdoor fireplace and grill

Posted: 02 Jan 2019 10:58 AM PST

The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.


  • The BioLite FirePit is a fan-powered, app-controlled marvel of the great outdoors in the 21st century.
  • A rechargeable, motorized, Bluetooth-ready fan pumps air through two parallel tubes that create a vortex.
  • Use charcoal or wood, and cook just about anything on the hibachi grate that comes included.
  • Adjust the flame with the swipe of your finger to control your heat output or cooking temperature.

Something about plastics and electronics sitting at the edge of a fire may alarm you — it did me.

But, by Jove, BioLite's FirePit is a masterfully-engineered contraption built to foster, contain, and withstand the hottest little blaze you can muster, which, thanks to the fan, you can tend all night from the same seat without a single faceful of smoke. If that isn't at least a small miracle, I don't know what is.

The Bluetooth-connected, USB-charged fan, by the way, is what sets the FirePit apart. It hooks up to the side of the wire mesh cage (enabling a 360° view of your glorious flame within) and blows air through two hole-riddled tubes to create a vortex for optimal fuel burning and almost no smoke.

Screen Shot 2018 11 15 at 12.25.34 PM

On the subject of fuel, the FirePit burns both charcoal and wood, each with astounding efficiency. The only adjustments you'll want to make when switching between the two is lowering the fuel rack for wood and raising it for charcoal (and maybe for cooking), and tossing on the grill grate when you want to cook.

Out of the box, it's recommended by BioLite that your first fire be a wood fire. This builds a layer of ash in the basin, which, they say, makes the perfect base for charcoal fires. I can confirm they're not wrong.

We started out with nothing but a bit of paper, a few precious drops of lighter fluid, some very wet wood, and not a whole lot of hope. We'd get a corner of a besotted piece of wood lit just barely before it would flicker out. After a few tries and no lasting luck, we affixed the electronic fan and got it rolling, from which point on we didn't even need to touch the thing.

Once you get your fire rolling reasonably well, all you have to do is connect your phone to the BioLite app and watch, perhaps in awe, as the size of your flame corresponds almost instantaneously to the swipe of your finger (or thumb) upon your screen.


The FirePit can hold about eight pieces of cordwood, which might not sound like much, but burning as optimally as it does, is plenty.

Once you're done with your fire, turn the fan off and take it inside. While it may survive rain or snow if the electronic ports are properly capped, you may want to charge it anyhow. As for the FirePit itself, make sure the fire and embers are out before attaching the cover and calling it a night or carrying on with further endeavors.

Perhaps as heartwarming as their wildly futuristic fire basin is BioLite Energy's humanitarian endeavor to bring heat and light to off-grid households around the world. To date, they've either illuminated, heated, or otherwise equipped, by their estimates, some 300,000 people around the world to date. They also have offices in Uganda, Kenya, India, in addition to their Brooklyn, New York headquarters, which is fun, but respectably modest, I ought to add.

You could do a lot worse — though hardly any better, I'm convinced — for a small outdoor fire pit or grill than the BioLite FirePit, especially in an urban or suburban setting where outdoor space is limited and large plums of smoke from traditional fire pits are cause for alarm, if not a visit from some faction of your local authorities.

Thanks in large part to how easy it was to control the flame, cooking was a breeze:






Cooking with the BioLite FirePit was a delightful breeze. I found it a relaxing relegation of duty to sit several yards from my production, effortlessly (and somehow familiarly) swiping left or right to tamp or fan my flame.

I was able to sit back and entertain while still keeping an eye on everything. I might not be the most technologically inclined millennial on this planet, but there is a lot to be said for a remote-controlled campfire and stove (in effect). Between tossing things on and pulling them off, I never once had to come within arm's length of the FirePit, and certain dishes that I felt would be better off contained in a skillet cooked wonderfully — especially the marinated tuna belly, which I was afraid might fall apart if placed directly on the grate.

In short, the BioLite FirePit fan gets things roaring in a flash whether you're using charcoal or wood, though BioLite does advise (and I agree) that having a good base of wood-fire coals makes this little thing shine.

It's going to live in my backyard for the winter, and on my boat this summer for island hopping and fish frying, when I'll probably put it through hell and report back with more.

Buy the BioLite FirePit from BioLite for $199.95 on BioLite's website. Also find it at Amazon and REI

SEE ALSO: The best camping gear you can buy

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Wall Street banks have been fighting like crazy over top tech bankers, and they're spending millions to get them in the door

Posted: 02 Jan 2019 10:53 AM PST

DocuSign IPO Day Image

  • Hundreds of senior bankers have shuffled seats in the most active year for moves since the financial crisis.
  • Tech bankers are the most coveted, and they're still getting poached — which is atypical this late in the year.
  • Investment banks are paying millions to lure senior tech bankers, who commonly make 1 1/2 times as much as bankers in other sectors.
  • Tech was the most active M&A sector this year, producing $670 billion worth of deals. 

Wall Street investment banks are still shopping this December, and tech bankers — the most coveted and expensive specialists in the dealmaking universe — continue to fly off the shelves. 

Earlier this week, Deutsche Bank hired software banker Greg Thorne from Stifel — the bank's second software hire in as many months. Last week, it was Evercore, which opened up its checkbook to sign Citigroup internet and digital media head Zaheed Kajani, a senior managing director (MD) who reportedly has over 100 transactions under his belt. 

Such hiring activity this late in the year is atypical, since the hiring firm will usually have to cover the bonus the banker would've earned at their previous company — a pricey proposition that amounts to paying an employee for a year of work they did for a rival.

But this hasn't been a typical year on many fronts.

This year has been the most active year since the financial crisis for hires and departures among senior investment bankers, with firms of all sizes poaching talent from rivals to capture a bigger slice of 2018's massive dealmaking frenzy. This year has seen $27 billion in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) fees — the most since 2007, according to Dealogic. 

Hundreds of managing directors have shuffled seats, but tech bankers have been the hottest commodity, with nearly 50 MD-level hires in the US, up 41% from 2017, according to data from executive-recruiting firm Egon Zehnder. 

"And the pace seems to be accelerating. Especially in software, but really across the board," Albert Laverge, head of the corporate and investment banking practice for Egon Zehnder, told Business Insider.

Read more: Investment banks are waging a war for star talent in 2018. Here are the banks that won — and the banks that lost.

Other top tech bankers who switched firms this year include Kurt Simon, who left JPMorgan Chase for Goldman Sachs; Tammy Kiely, who agreed to join Morgan Stanley only to rejoin Goldman; Sam Powers, who left UBS to run US TMT banking at Bank of America Merrill Lynch; Mathieu Salas, who left Citi to run fintech banking at Credit Suisse; and Adam Nordin, an education-technology specialist who left Barclays for Goldman. 

It's no surprise the market for tech bankers is booming, given the bounty of fees the sector is producing. With two weeks left in the year, tech was the most active M&A sector, producing $670 billion worth of deals, according to Dealogic. Among the largest were IBM's $34 billion buyout of Red Hat, Broadcom's $18.9 billion acquisition of chip-maker CA Technologies, and Microsoft's $7.5 billion deal for GitHub

The next closest sector is healthcare at just over $500 billion, which happens to be the second-hottest hiring sector for MDs, especially in biotech. There's also been a barrage of biotech initial public offerings this year — 58 deals that have raise a collective $6.3 billion.

"Everyone's trying to recruit someone who is supernaturally successful," Julian Bell, head of investment-bank recruiting at Sheffield Haworth in New York, told Business Insider. "If you do successfully do that, you can add a lot of revenue on top." 

These bankers don't come cheap

But great tech talent is scarce, and these bankers don't come cheap. 

According to industry sources, it's common for senior tech bankers to make 1 1/2 times as much as similarly situated bankers with a different industry expertise, such as consumer goods, business services, or real estate.

"You have to be consistently good to get into the $2 million range in most sectors. As in very good," Bell said.

By comparison, sources said, compensation for experienced tech bankers in the $3 million to $5 million range is commonplace.

In part, tech and biotech bankers command a higher premium because of the revenue they bring in working in the hottest sector for deals.

But they're also more scarce because their talents are coveted beyond the confines of Wall Street, Bell points out. 

Big tech giants, as well as maturing unicorns, desire seasoned bankers for chief financial officer and corporate development roles, and the payouts, often laden with company stock and options, are far greater than anything a top tech bank like Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, or JPMorgan can offer.

"If they get it right, they've just earned $30 million," Bell said.

And maybe much more.

Anthony Noto, a longtime Goldman Sachs banker, joined Twitter in 2014 as its CFO, and later as its chief operating officer, before leaving earlier this year to take the top job at SoFi. He was compensated primarily in stock and options at Twitter, which are worth about $67 million, not including any of the shares he's already sold, according to regulatory filings and market prices.

Imran Khan, who left Credit Suisse to become Snapchat's chief strategy officer in 2014, had accumulated a $150 million fortune by the time the company went public in 2017 — mostly in stock that has diminished in value since. Khan left in September to start his own company.

Ajay Shah, who was appointed head of technology investment banking at Deutsche Bank this fall and was involved in the bank's recent MD hires, said this dynamic has made finding the right talent more difficult.

"The talent there is a little sparse in terms of people who want to move, and people we really like," Shah said. "The hiring pool had gotten a little skinny because of all those bankers moving to different parts of the ecosystem."

But, with the deal market roaring and expected to continue well into 2018, banks want to have a team in place to capitalize on it as much as possible before the music stops.

Given the customary garden leave, waiting until the new year to hire talent means a bounty of deal fees left on the table. 

That helps explain why Deutsche Bank, and others, are still poaching tech MDs well into the fourth quarter.

"Overall, the tech space is going to be extremely active, and we want to hire ahead of that and have the right team focused on clients," Shah recently told Business Insider

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Netflix warned 'Bird Box' fans not to hurt themselves doing a new meme challenge

Posted: 02 Jan 2019 10:51 AM PST

bird box

  • Netflix warned "Bird Box" fans on Wednesday not to hurt themselves while doing a new meme challenge.
  • The "Bird Box Challenge" involves people blindfolding and filming themselves walking around outside.
  • Netflix said last week that more than 45 million accounts viewed "Bird Box."

"Bird Box" has taken the internet by storm since it debuted on Netflix last month, so much so that Netflix is warning fans not to hurt themselves while performing a new meme challenge based on the movie.

The "Bird Box Challenge" involves people blindfolding and filming themselves walking around outside, in the same way that the characters in the movie must cover their eyes or risk being killed by mysterious creatures.

Netflix tweeted on Wednesday, "Can't believe I have to say this, but: PLEASE DO NOT HURT YOURSELVES WITH THIS BIRD BOX CHALLENGE. We don't know how this started, and we appreciate the love, but Boy and Girl have just one wish for 2019 and it is that you not end up in the hospital due to memes."

Here's some examples of people doing, or considering, the challenge, which includes parents blindfolding themselves and their kids while walking around the house or outside:

Netflix said last week that "Bird Box" was viewed by more than 45 million accounts, the most viewed Netflix original movie in its first seven days. Netflix confirmed to Entertainment Weekly that a "view" was counted when an account watched more than 70% of the movie's running time, but, as Business Insider reported this week, Netflix's lack of transparency regarding viewing statistics has caused controversy throughout Hollywood.

Still, the movie has become an internet sensation and has inspired countless memes, including the challenge. Netflix's warning may backfire, as some Twitter users responded to the tweet by saying that they would now do the challenge, as seen below:

More of Business Insider's "Bird Box" coverage:

SEE ALSO: The 5 most anticipated new TV shows in January

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NOW WATCH: The world's largest cruise ship just landed in Miami — here's what it's like on board

There's even more evidence that one type of diet is the best for your body and brain

Posted: 02 Jan 2019 10:30 AM PST

hiker happiness joy strength fitness exercise mountain climber Aoraki National Park new zealand outside

In a world dominated by celebrity fad diets that range from absurd, like Reese Witherspoon's alleged "baby-food diet," to absurdly unaffordable, such as the $200 "moon dust"-infused smoothie that Gwyneth Paltrow drinks, many people don't believe there's a single best diet for your health.

But a growing body of research suggests that a meal plan focusing on vegetables, protein, and healthy fats has key benefits for losing weight, keeping your mind sharp, and protecting your heart and brain as you age.

This type of eating regimen is called by many names and comes in different iterations, from "plant-based" to "Mediterranean." Some people on the diet eat eggs and dairy, meat and fish, or all of the above; others are vegetarian and abstain from meat and animal products altogether.

At its core, however, most of these meal plans are very similar and have two main characteristics: they are rich in vegetables, proteins, and healthy fats and low in heavily processed foods and refined carbohydrates like white bread. 

In its annual diet ranking, US News and World Report ranked the Mediterranean diet as the best one to follow in 2019. (The plan was ranked at the top last year, too.)

Evidence supporting that recommendation can be found in the March 2018 issue of the Journal of Gerontology, in which scientists analyzed six recent studies on the Mediterranean diet and found that the eating regimen is closely linked with a variety of beneficial outcomes. Positive impacts include healthy aging, better mobility, a lower risk of chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease, and improved cognitive functioning.

A study presented at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference last January also took a deep dive into the potential benefits of two Mediterranean-style eating plans. The study looked at how the MIND diet (a version of the Mediterranean plan that focuses on "brain-healthy" foods) can slow cognitive decline.

Why plant-based diets are good for the body

toast avocado tomato sandwich

Eating like you live on the coast of Naples or Athens sounds intuitively appealing. Meals could include fresh fish, vegetables drizzled in olive oil, nuts, beans, and whole grains.

Recent research suggests that diets like these, which are also low in processed foods and red meat, are great for your brain and body — both in the near-term and into older age.

To keep your energy levels up and help you feel healthy in the long term, your diet needs to feed more than your stomach.

It has to satiate your muscles, which crave protein; your digestive system, which runs best with fiber; and your tissues and bones, which work optimally when they're getting vitamins from food.

A plant-based diet's combination of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, proteins, and fats accomplishes that goal.

This balance is also key to keeping you full after a meal and energized throughout the day so you don't feel the need to overeat, Nichola Whitehead, a registered dietitian in the UK, previously told Business Insider.

"You need to have a balanced meal — things like whole grains, fiber, and vegetables — in order to sustain your blood sugar. Empty calories [like white bread or white rice] give a temporary fix," she said.

But plant-based diets aren't just good for the body — they have key benefits for the mind as well.

Mediterranean and MIND for the mind

avocado smoked salmon blueberries healthy food meal bowl tomatoes lunch

The MIND diet is catching researchers' eyes for its potential to benefit people who've survived a stroke.

Just like the Mediterranean diet, the MIND diet emphasizes vegetables, seafood, olive oil, and wine. It puts added focus on green leafy veggies, berries, beans, whole grains, and poultry. Adherents to both plans limit or eliminate processed foods, pastries, sweets, anything fried, red meat, cheese, butter, and margarine.

In people who've survived a stroke — a severe episode that doubles the risk of developing dementia — the MIND diet may help slow cognitive decline, according to the study mentioned above. That finding builds on the conclusions from research published in 2017 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society and jibes with the series of six studies highlighted in the March 2018 issue of the Journal of Gerontology.

older man elderly man jogging nature running exercise thinking outdoors

For the study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, researchers looked at data from close to 6,000 older adults. Participants were asked about their diet and the types of foods they ate or did not eat. Then researchers measured their memory and attention skills using reliable tests like word lists and backward counting exercises.

The researchers compared the participants' diets to how they performed on the cognitive tests. Those whose eating plans lined up with Mediterranean and MIND-style diets did significantly better than those on other types of diets.

In fact, the more closely aligned people's diets were with a Mediterranean-style plan, the lower their risk of scoring poorly on the brain tests.

"These findings lend support to the hypothesis that diet modification may be an important public health strategy to protect against neurodegeneration during aging," Claire McEvoy, the lead author of the paper and a nutritional epidemiologist at the University of California San Francisco, wrote in the paper.

Researchers still aren't sure why these type of eating plans appear to be so beneficial for the brain, but they have some clues.

Both diets are rich in antioxidants and two types of healthy fat: monounsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids. Previous studies have found a link between these ingredients and a reduced risk of dementia, as well as higher cognitive performance.

The green vegetables and berries emphasized in the MIND diet have also been shown to help protect against progressive loss of the structure or function of brain cells. This loss, known as neurodegeneration, is a key characteristic of diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

So if your New Year's resolution is to eat healthier or lose weight, the Mediterranean plan is worth a try. It may not even feel like you're dieting at all.

SEE ALSO: Americans have been making a huge diet mistake for 100 years — here's what they should do instead

DON'T MISS: 2 forms of exercise are the best way to stave off the effects of aging — here's how to incorporate them into your life

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NOW WATCH: Here's how the American diet has changed in the last 52 years

11 tips and tricks to get the most out of your new Wear OS smartwatch

Posted: 02 Jan 2019 10:08 AM PST

Wear OS 2018

  • Google's Wear OS smartwatch software packs a lot of features into a tiny package.
  • From messaging to productivity to advanced fitness tracking, Wear OS watches have something for everyone.
  • Here are 11 tips and tricks for getting started. 

So, you got a new Wear OS smartwatch over the holidays. 

That's good news for you, because Google's smartwatch software packs a surprising amount of tools into a tiny package.

From messaging to productivity to advanced fitness tracking, Wear OS watches have something for everyone.

But not every feature is obvious from the get-go. Google has packed the software — which used to be called Android Wear, and is available on smartwatches from Fossil, Tag Heuer, LG, Michael Kors, and more — with neat tricks and helpful tools to make using the watch a lot easier.

And now that the latest version of Google's smartwatch operating system has arrived, there are even more cool tricks to try out. 

So whether you're new to Wear OS or a longtime user, here are 11 tips and tricks for getting the most out of your watch.

SEE ALSO: Here's how Google's new $800 Pixel 3 compares to the iPhone XS

1. You can see all your notifications in one place by swiping up.

2. If you received an important message, you can respond right away using smart replies.

Just tap on the message to select a built-in smart reply without leaving your notifications stream. 

Note: smart replies only work if you have an Android smartphone. 

3. Swipe down to access Google Pay, Google's contactless payment system.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Facebook pledged to improve the quality of news on its platform, but viral and sensationalist sites still get the most engagement

Posted: 02 Jan 2019 10:08 AM PST

Mark Zuckerberg

  • A year ago, Facebook said it would prioritize trusted news in the news feed.
  • Today, the pages that get the most engagement belong to viral and polarizing sites.
  • To publishing insiders, the data shows they can’t take Facebook audience for granted.

Last January, Facebook dropped a bombshell on the publishing world when it announced it would cut back on the amount of media content it would distribute in the news feed, which had become a vital source of traffic for many publishers. The change was meant to make more room for interactions between family and friends.

But don't worry, Facebook said. CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself said Facebook recognized that news was important and that it would give weight to trusted news outlets in the feed and cut down on clickbait and fake news.

It hasn’t entirely worked out that way. Facebook has taken steps to crack down on fake news and says those are working. But according to Facebook-owned CrowdTangle, the list of top 10 media outlets by interactions is dominated by Unilad, Ladbible, 9Gag, and Viral Thread — outlets that trade in viral and sensational stories like "Viewers Outraged By Holly Willoughby’s Controversial Jungle Fashion Choices." The top 10 are roughly unchanged from a year ago.

top media pages by total interactions december 2018

Read more: Internal emails show Mark Zuckerberg saying what's good for the world is not necessarily what's good for Facebook

Polarizing content also ranks high. Breitbart and Ben Shapiro, whose site has been described as an heir to Breitbart, ranked 10 and 12, respectively, up from 17 and 23 a year earlier.

Only two mainstream news sites made the top 10 (out of a list of 6,661 pages), Fox News and CNN at No. 5 and 8, respectively. Both rose in the ranks from a year ago, when Fox News ranked 9 and CNN ranked 14.

Looking down the list to the top 25 media outlets by number of interactions, 10 were mainstream news organizations, including ABC News and BBC News. That’s up from seven a year ago.

Deciding what's 'quality' is a challenge

Facebook said its approach to improving the quality of news on Facebook has been two-fold: minimize the bad and elevate the good. "Recent research from academic groups show measures to reduce false news are working. We continue to incorporate user feedback in news ranking and to better connect people with relevant news we are also investing in products such as our Breaking News label and local news surface, 'Today In,'" a Facebook rep said.

But to publishing insiders, the rankings data is more evidence of Facebook saying one thing when it comes to helping publishers get audience and revenue from the platform, and then doing another.

“Clearly, quality news sites do not appear to be being prioritized within Facebook,” said Matt Karolian, director of new initiatives at Boston Globe Media. “Hyper-partisan news sources still seem to be doing better. We certainly aren’t seeing any substantial lift in people who are visiting from Facebook and converting to subscriptions.”

Part of the problem is deciding what “quality” news is is obviously subjective. Facebook has had a challenge figuring out what quality news sources are. One way it did that was to survey users, asking if they were familiar with and trusted given news sources.

This approach was widely criticized, with skeptics saying typical users aren't necessarily the most objective judges. Also, there was a concern that this method would be unfair to news sources that were high-quality but less established, and therefore had low name recognition.

One theory is that conservative news sites are popular because there are just fewer of them. Another is that Facebook, which lawmakers have accused of having a liberal bias, is bending over backwards to appear to be even-handed. Karolian’s own research found that hyper-partisan sites on both the left and right tend to do well on Facebook, though.

Another explanation is that people just prefer sensational and emotional content. The counter-argument is that Facebook can turn the dials to promote higher-quality content in its own feed if it wants to. Some conclude from this data that it just doesn’t want to.

Relative to themselves, mainstream news outlets did show an upward trend in engagement as the year went on. Of the top 10 traditional news sites by interactions, all but two — CBS News and NowThis Politics — had interactions on links increase in the past 12 months. (We looked at links because publishers can monetize link posts more than video posts.)

It’s hard to tell if that’s evidence of a sustained trend or just a seasonal increase. The uptick also could have come from news publishers spending more to promote their content in the feed.

Publishers shouldn't take Facebook for granted

The lesson of the past year is that Facebook will always prioritize bringing and hanging on to audiences on Facebook, said Raju Narisetti, former CEO of Gizmodo Media Group and now a faculty member at Columbia Journalism School. “This realization forces smarter news brands to not take any Facebook audience for granted, or build it into their medium or long term revenue strategies,” he said.

We’ll continue to see highly shareable content such as funny videos from viral news publishers if users find them interesting and engaging, said digital media consultant Matt Navarra. The bigger concern is how social media is evolving is around private groups and messaging apps, which can be breeding grounds for extremism, he said.

“The ability for social sharing and discussion to take place in less public and more hidden communities is far more worrying and difficult to manage for tech platforms,” he said.

SEE ALSO: Facebook has been on an advertising blitz to fix its reputation, and some publishers have raked in cash from its nightmare PR year

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Nordstrom's Half Yearly Sale ends today on January 2 — and more of today's best deals from around the web

Posted: 02 Jan 2019 10:01 AM PST

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Since you don't have all day to scour the web for noteworthy sales and discounts, we rounded up the best bargains for you to shop in one convenient place.

Nordstrom Half Yearly Sale

1. Save up to 50% during Nordstrom's Half Yearly sale

Nordstrom's annual Half-Yearly sale is a great shopping event for snagging steep discounts on great clothing and more. This massive sale includes Men's, Women's and Kid's fashion, with everything from footwear to jewelry on sale. You can also save on home and beauty products. The sale ends today on January 2, so act fast before these deals disappear. 

Shop the Nordstrom Half Yearly sale now.

Best Buy sale

2. Save up to 40% on clearance and open-box products from Best Buy

Now is the perfect time to accessorize all the gadgets you got during the holidays. And, if you didn't get the laptop, phone, or other device you were hoping for this holiday season, you might be able to pick it up at a heavy discount. Best Buy's clearance and open-box product sale runs until January 12. 

Shop the Best Buy sale now.

Wayfair TV Stand

3. Save up to 80% with Wayfair's End of Year Outlet sale

Wayfair is offering some major discounts on products across all categories, including furniture, bedding, pet accessories, and outdoor furniture. This deal ends January 5, so you have a few days to find the right piece of furniture for your home.

Shop the Wayfair End of Year Outlet sale now.

UA sale

4. Save on thousands of sportswear products during Under Armour's Semi-Annual event

Help yourself stick to your New Year's resolution this January by shopping for some awesome workout gear from Under Armour. This sale lasts until January 21, so you have some time to sift through the thousands of Under Armour products on sale. 

Shop the Under Armour Semi-Annual event now.


5. Save 10% on orders over $150 from Brooklinen

Upgrade your bedding with these high-quality, extremely comfortable sheets, blankets, and pillows from Brooklinen. The direct-to-consumer brand is offering a 10% discount on orders over $150 for a limited time if you use the code HOLIDAY10 when you check out. 

Shop Brooklinen holiday discount now.

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