Rise of the Drones

Buying Drones For Holiday Gifts? The Government Has a Warning or Two

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It doesn’t matter if you’re still floundering on Thanksgiving plans: the holiday season is definitely upon us (yes, already) and you’re going to be out shopping soon enough. If Weird Al’s bizarre Radio Shack commercial is any indication, small quadcopters drones are going to be a hot item for dads who’ve already upgraded their spoiled kids to the iPhone 6 Plus already.

In advance of the holiday drone-buying onslaught, the United States and the U.K. are attempting to educate people about the laws surrounding their drone usage. After all, small drones inhabit a funny legal grey area between model planes and small aircraft — a distinction that gets more fuzzy if you plan on using them to pick up some freelance aerial photography gigs. Read More

Sorry/Not Sorry

Uber CEO Tweetstorms Empty Apology For His Executive Threatening Journalists

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For a company that is struggling with its “asshole” public image, Uber has had a baaaad 24 hours.

A recap: At a private event, Uber Senior Vice President Emil Michael told Buzzfeed Editor in Chief Ben Smith that in order to deal with bad press, Uber could run opposition research secretly on contentious journalists, dox them, target their friends and family, and quietly expose the private details of their lives. Then, Mr. Michael said that Pando founder Sarah Lacy should be held responsible for sexual assault committed against women by cab drivers, all because she encouraged people to use Lyft for reasons of Uber’s (suddenly obvious) misogynistic corporate culture.

Just in the past hour or so, Mr. Kalanick took to Twitter to issue an apology, though it doesn’t look like Uber is going to be changing the way it does business. It’s nice to see that he’s taking personal accountability enough to issue the apology on his personal social accounts, but it doesn’t nearly approach the ideal move: giving those same journalists that his executive threatened more access to his typically opaque and shady company. Read More

Friends

New Site Helps Couples Befriend Other Couples, Swears It’s Not for Swingers

Don't you wish you were having as much fun as those people? (Facebook)

Are you one of those couples who, now that you live in the suburbs and shop at Whole Foods, can’t bear to spend time with your wild, aimless single friends? Are you in need of more friends who share your passion for minivans and Traditional Home magazine?

CoupleHang is a new service that works kind of like dating site, except it’s for couples in need of other couple-friends. The site’s currently in beta testing, but will publicly launch on Dec. 31 so you can kick off 2015 with a slew of awkward double dates.  Read More

uber it

Uber Executive Says Sarah Lacy Is Personally Responsible For Sexual Assault Against Women in Cabs

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It seems like just yesterday we were all talking about Uber trying to absolve themselves of their asshole image in the public opinion. Because that was just yesterday. It was also fun while it lasted, but it didn’t even last the whole day.

Last night, Buzzfeed Editor in Chief Ben Smith published a series of remarks made by Uber Senior Vice President Emil Michael over dinner. Mr. Michael suggested that the proper response to hostile journalists would be to spend a million dollars on an opposition research team which would dig up details on the private lives of those journalists in order to harass and target their families. Read More

Delivery From Inconvenience

High-Tech Butler Service Launches in NYC, Raises $2 Million

This could be your Alfred picking out your crappy all-natural, raw, vegan granola. (Alfred)

It’s hard to feel fancy when you’re living in a cramped, occasionally-roach-infested apartment in Brooklyn. But guess what? Now you can pay $99/month for an app-controlled butler.

Alfred, the TechCrunch Disrupt-winning app that calls itself “the first human-powered operating system for your busy life,” launched today in New York City and Boston. The company also announced the completion of a $2 million funding round, led by Spark Capital, additional investors SV Angel and CrunchFund. Read More

uber? But I just met her

Uber CEO Is Suddenly Concerned About Looking Like an ‘Asshole’

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Uber has a #brand problem: everyone loves to use them, but they wreak havoc on local governments and piss off local taxi drivers everywhere they go. Now, you can hire a veritable tech PR army to deal with local squabbles and wars with other companies, but there’s one problem no flack is cut out to solve: a CEO who is an unsalvageable jerk.

In an expansive profile, San Francisco Magazine waxes skeptical over Uber CEO Travis Kalanick’s new attempts to shed his “asshole” image. The profile says that Mr. Kalanick is suddenly being more careful about his rhetoric, musing that during the interview, he was on his best behavior and was “dressed not like the slick cutthroat capitalist that many claim him to be, but like a dad.” Read More

Wearable Tech

Intel’s New $500 Smart Bracelet Has Yelp and Not Much Else

MICA, Intel and Opening Ceremony's questionably-useful new wearable device. (MICA)

Ever desperately needed to search Yelp, but have just been so on-the-go that even whipping out your iPhone is inconvenient? Yeah, us neither — which is why we’re a little concerned about Intel’s new wearable.

Spawned from a partnership between Intel and Opening Ceremony, the device is called MICA, or My Intelligent Communication Accessory. Set to debut in early December for the exorbitant price of $495, MICA is a chunky bangle with a screen on the inner wrist, from which users can carry out a series of, quite frankly, pretty unexciting functions. Read More

Privacy is Dead

People Trust Social Media Less Than Any Other Form of Communication

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No matter how much Facebook messes with our emotions and pressures us to give up our data to their advertisers, they’ve hardly done anything serious enough to drive us away. Most people trump it up to apathy — we don’t care how much we’re violated if we get to use the service for free. But a new study poses another possible answer.

Last week, Pew Research Center released a report on privacy in the “post-Snowden era” and how Americans see government surveillance, social media sites and advertisers. Unsurprisingly, 91 percent of everyone surveyed believe “consumers have lost control over how personal information is collected and used by companies.” Read More

Crime and Punishment

Fugitive Accused of 4 Murders Tracked Down Through Facebook

The Glendale police worked with the LAPD to track Mr. Rodriguez down. (Facebook)

An alleged four-time murderer was featured on America’s Most Wanted, but it was Facebook that ultimately led to his arrest.

A police officer in Glendale, CA tracked down one of the LAPD’s most wanted fugitives after spotting him in various Facebook photos, the L.A. Times reports. The fugitive, Eduardo Rodriguez, has reportedly been on the run for around 12 years, and stands accused of four murders and two attempted murders, all related to gang activity. Read More