NextDraft

Digital Personal Assistants and Other Fascinating News on the Web

September 26, 2013

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  1. How Algorithms Shop for You

    How would you feel about shopping all the time? That could soon be the reality as companies like Google, Amazon, and eBay compete for a dominant position in the emerging same-day delivery marketplace. In some cities, you can already order products from a local retailer which will then be delivered in a few hours. But, as Wired’s Marcus Wohlsen explains, that’s just the beginning: “The game goes deeper. As personal digital assistant apps such as Google Now become widespread, so does the idea of algorithms that can not only meet but anticipate our needs. Extend the concept from the purely digital into the realm of retail, and you have what some industry prognosticators are calling ‘ambient commerce.'” Google’s Shopping Express is now live in San Francisco. So far, the best-selling product is toilet paper.

    + In the long term, our smartphones and other connected devices might be shopping all the time. In the near term, they may be distracting us from the impulse buy. We can’t be tempted if we don’t look up.

  2. Al-Qaeda’s Role in Kenya Mall Attack

    Over the past couple years, we’ve been reading a lot about the gradual demise of al-Qaeda. The Economist explains that the Nairobi bombing is a reminder that reports of this demise have been greatly exaggerated: “From Somalia to Syria, al-Qaeda franchises and jihadist fellow travellers now control more territory, and can call on more fighters, than at any time since Osama bin Laden created the organisation 25 years ago.”

    + More from The Economist’s report on The New Face of Terror: “For all the West’s supposedly huge soft power, it has been feeble in its efforts to win over moderate Muslims in the most important battle of all, that of ideas.”

  3. IOC Not Challenging Russian Anti-Gay Law

    While making its final inspection ahead of the Sochi games, The International Olympic Committee declared that it was “fully satisfied” that a discriminatory “Russian law banning gay propaganda does not violate the Olympic charter’s anti-discrimination guarantee.”

    + The chairman of Barilla Pasta says the company will not include gays in its advertising because they like the famiglia tradizionale. He went on to say that if people don’t like that, they can eat another brand of pasta. Done.

    + Former President George H.W. Bush acted as a witness at a same-sex marriage in Maine.

  4. The Saddest Place in NYC?

    A new study that measures levels of happiness based on geography and emotions expressed on Twitter found that the highly-competitive Hunter College High School is the saddest spot in Manhattan. One student said the finding made sense: “The school has no windows, so being inside can seem dark and depressing. And some kids do get stressed out from the workload.” Other students didn’t trust the study because all their friends use Facebook, not Twitter.

  5. Biggest Bank Fines

    There are a lot of big banks that have done a lot of bad things over the past decade, so you’ve got to give some credit to JP Morgan for racking up the biggest bank fines ever. Regulators want the firm to pay $11 billion in penalties. From The Atlantic, here are all the reasons why.

  6. America’s Cup Winner

    The Larry Ellison-backed Oracle Team USA (which apparently has only one American sailor) overcame a 8-1 deficit — and some of their own cheating — to win the America’s Cup 9-8. Can you imagine choking a lead that big and having Larry Ellison be the backer of the team you choked to?

    Slate: Team USA’s billionaire funded, cheat-tastic comeback reveals the awesome power of the inspirational sports narrative. It also got the song Sailing by Christopher Cross stuck in my head.

    + USA Today takes a shot at listing the ten greatest comebacks in sports history.

  7. Cracking the Code

    Rick Ross has about eleven bucks left in his savings account. Things were a lot different in the 80s when Ross had to hire people to count all the cash he had stored in his mother’s closet and elsewhere. From Mike Sager in Esquire:  “Crack was just turning up in the United States. The contras were seeking funds to support their civil war in Nicaragua. And an L. A. kid was looking for an opportunity. The combination would change America.” Say hello to Rick Ross.

    + What happens when pot gets legalized? From Business Insider’s Walter Hickey: The True Story Of The Great Marijuana Crash Of 2011.

  8. Control-Alt-Delete Was a “Mistake”

    “So we could have had a single button, but the guy who did the IBM keyboard design didn’t want to give us our single button. And so we had, we programmed at a low level that you had to — it was a mistake.” Bill Gates explains Control-Alt-Delete.

    + Mental Floss: The History of ctrl – alt – delete.

  9. History of Rock Guitar Solos

    This is pretty cool. A  musician named Mark Sidney Johnson guides us through the history of the rock guitar solo. He plays 28 solos, spanning 50 years, in 6 minutes.

  10. The Bottom of the News

    “When you’re in the recording studio do you ever think, ‘Hey, what if I don’t make something shitty?'” Justin Bieber joins Zach Galifianakis on Between Two Ferns.

    + If you like Breaking Bad (or even if you don’t), you’d like The Shield. Mark Peters on the one who knocked first.

    + Who holds the Twerking World Record? At this moment, it’s unclear. Maybe Larry Ellison should back a team.

    + Jimmy Fallon and The Roots sing Sesame Street.

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