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Archive for March, 2018

A ‘Star Trek’ writer made a 1999 prediction that absolutely nailed what technology is like today

star trek screenshot/”Star Trek” (2009)
  • A column from 1999 went viral because its predictions are dead-on.
  • You have to read it to believe it.

An 18-year-old magazine column went viral over the past week because it’s just so good. The column effectively predicts the iPhone, Siri, and even Facebook’s privacy scandals — all the way back in 1999.

The prediction was made by science fiction author David Gerrold, who writes novels and used to write for “Star Trek.” It was shared this week by technology writer Esther Schindler. It was published in a now-defunct magazine called Smart Reseller, according to Fast Company.

Check it out:

—Esther Schindler (@estherschindler) March 28, 2018//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js ” data-e2e-name=”embed-container” data-media-container=”embed”>

What makes this so special is that not only did Gerrold foresee smartphones, but he also clearly saw the privacy issues that have come with them.

If there’s one quibble with the prescient column, it’s that voice assistants — whether Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant, or Amazon’s Alexa — can’t really do complicated queries the way Gerrold predicted. But maybe the prediction is still ahead of its time.

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San Francisco is so expensive that more people are leaving than moving in — and it could mean disaster for the nation’s tech capital

San Francisco
San Francisco is so expensive that more people are leaving the city than moving into it.
heyengel/Shutterstock
  • San Francisco’s metropolitan area lost more residents than it attracted between 2016 and 2017, according to US census data.
  • People are leaving San Francisco because of the out-of-control housing prices. The city’s median-priced home now costs $1.5 million.
  • The nation’s tech capital risks losing talent if they can’t afford to live there.

People are leaving San Francisco because, as they say, the rent is too damn high.

US census data shows the region that includes San Francisco, Oakland, and Hayward — a city in the East Bay that offers a quicker commute to Silicon Valley — lost more residents than it attracted between 2016 and 2017. And the migration is worsening in the Bay Area’s urban core.

The Wall Street Journal reported that in the year ending July 1, census data shows the area had a net loss of almost 24,000 residents who moved into other parts of California or the US.

The San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward metropolitan area lost only half that many residents the year prior. As recently as 2013 – 2014, the region saw net annual gains of about 15,000 people.

A critical lack of affordable housing and sky-high rent prices have made the San Francisco Bay Area unlivable for many artists, artisans, longtime residents, and even tech entrepreneurs.

The median-priced home in San Francisco sells for $1.5 million, according to Paragon Real Estate Group. It’s not uncommon for buyers to bid hundreds of thousands above asking and pay in all cash.

The situation has forced many to rent longer than they would like. In March, San Francisco’s median two-bedroom rent of $3,040 was about two and a half times as high as the national average. Still, people are finding ways to make it work. They cram into communal housing, or “co-living” units, that offer perks like maid service and free internet in lieu of space. Some give up their internet, cable, and cars, while others take home wherever they go by living in vans.

The housing crisis could put Silicon Valley at risk

The San Francisco Bay Area, recognized as a global hub of tech finance and innovation, may be at risk of losing top tech workers if they can’t afford to live there, even on six-figure salaries.

A recent report from Paragon Real Estate Group showed that the household income required to buy a median-priced home in San Francisco reached an all-time high of $303,000 in December.

Katherine Maher, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, which is based in San Francisco, responded to the report on Twitter, saying: “As a non-profit employer, I cannot see how we reconcile this with a future for our organization in San Francisco.”

She added: “Our local employees, particularly the younger ones, struggle to make ends meet. They leave when they start families. How can we be an equitable employer when only those who can afford to work for us, do?”

Brian Brennan, senior vice president at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, told the Wall Street Journal that while the area’s high-paying jobs and lifestyle still bring tech workers to the Bay Area, “it is hard to get the best talent outside of this region to come here and stay here.”

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Dress Code Decoded

The do’s and don’t of proper attire in the Caribbean

dress-code-lauren-rothman-styleauteurThe thrill of receiving an invitation to an event is often diminished by the sheer panic that sets in when you read the words: resort chic, smart casual, festive attire. What do these terms mean? Isn’t smart casual an oxymoron? Deciphering the dress code can be especially difficult when living in the Caribbean where the temperatures soar, but the culture can be quite conservative. Whilst no sartorial rules are set in stone there are guidelines to follow, such as: when in doubt, over dress. Thankfully, fashion expert and image consultant Lauren A. Rothman, also known as The Style Auteur, and author of Style Bible, is here to provide a Caribbean tailored guide to the do’s and don’ts of proper attire.

RL: Tell us how you came to be a fashion expert.
LR: I said my first word while shopping with my mom at Bal Harbour Shops in Miami, Fl. Since then, shopping has been my favourite sport.

RL: Discuss the importance of first impressions and the role of image.
LR: We communicate who we are through what we wear. Our clothes tell a story… and I help my clients communicate their narrative successfully, and effectively.

RL:  What are the biggest faux pas when it comes to dressing?
LR: Respect the dress code – even the unwritten one! Don’t wear a
ball gown to a barbeque or distressed, ripped jeans into a boardroom.

RL:  What are the rules when it comes to trends and dressing for one’s body?
LR: It doesn’t matter what’s ‘in’ if it doesn’t look good on YOU! Dress for the body you have, not the fads and trends in the media.

RL:  There has been a marked increase in the availability of inexpensive apparel on the market. Are there pieces that are worth investing in?
LR: Yes! Be savvy about when to save and when to splurge. Invest your time and money in pieces that cannot be easily replicated and fit you perfectly. Save on styles that are overly trendy or colourful – you will tire of them more quickly.

RL:  What are the five pieces every woman and man should have in their closet?
LR: Women should build a wardrobe to include a fabulous bag that reflects their personality and style, stylish but comfortable shoes to run around town, sunglasses that fit their face shape, an assortment of shape wear that will help any outfit look killer, and statement jewellery that goes from beach to bar.

Every stylish guy should aspire to have at least one classic, well-tailored suit that can be dressed up or down, dark jeans that can be paired with a tee or blazer, a signature belt that communicates their style philosophy, sunglasses that move from the beach to the boardroom, and a plain navy tee – the most versatile staple.

RL:  Is there a style maxim that you swear by?
LR: Dress for the body you have, not the one you dream about.

Resort chic
What to Wear W: Strappy maxi dress with jewelled flip-flops.
What to Wear M: Linen pants and dressy tee.

Island Cocktail

What to Wear W: Pop of colour dress and wedges.
What to Wear M: Slacks, dress shirt and linen blazer.

Smart Casual

What to Wear W: Belted shirtdress paired with flats.
What to Wear M: Tailored shorts with a colourful dress shirt, sleeves rolled up.

Festive Attire
What to Wear W: Short fringed dress with high-heeled sandals.
What to Wear M: Silk sport coat with a slight sheen paired with dark slacks and a skinny tie.

Beach Wedding
What to Wear W: Whimsical floral dress that works barefoot and in heels.
What to Wear M: Light-coloured linen suit.

Black Tie
What to Wear: Sexy gown with embellishment or cutouts.
What to Wear M: Tuxedo with tie and white dress shirt.

lauren-rothman-styleauteurGet more fashion tips from Lauren on TwitterFacebook and Instagram and www.styleauteur.com

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IMG
Silicon Valley Venture Capital Survey – Fourth Quarter 2017
Full Analysis
By Cynthia Clarfield Hess, Mark A. Leahy and Khang Tran

View the full report.

Background
This report analyzes the terms of 190 venture financings closed in the fourth quarter of 2017 by companies headquartered in Silicon Valley.

Overview of Results
Valuation Results Remain Strong
Valuation results continued to be strong in Q4 2017, but the percentage price increases declined moderately compared to the prior quarter, following three consecutive quarters of increases.

Internet/Digital Media Scores Highest Valuation Results
The internet/digital media industry recorded the strongest valuation results in Q4 2017 compared to the other industries, with an average price increase of 179% and a median price increase of 51%, both up from the prior quarter.

Valuation Results Down for Series D Financings
Series D financings recorded the weakest valuation results in Q4 2017 compared to the other financing rounds, with the highest percentage of down rounds and the lowest average and median price increases of all the financing rounds.

Full Report
Fenwick & West LLP | 801 California Street, Mountain View, CA 94041 | 650.988.8500
©2018 Fenwick & West LLP. All Rights Reserved.

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Dropbox targets market cap at nearly $8 billion in initial public offering

By  – Editor-in-Chief, San Francisco Business Times

Dropbox is targeting a market capitalization at about $7.6 billion in its initial public offering expected this month, down from $10 billion in its last fundraising round.

The San Francisco-based file-sharing company plans to sell 36 million shares of Class A common stock for $16 to $18 a share, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission issued this morning.

At the high end, Dropbox would have a market value of $7.1 billion, based on the shares outstanding after the IPO. Including restricted stock units, the valuation would be about $7.6 billion.

Dropbox will use a portion of the funds raised in the stock sale to repay nearly $173 million to its lenders and hinted at acquisitions in its filing:

“We may use a portion of the net proceeds we receive from this offering and the concurrent private placement to acquire businesses, products, services or technologies. However, we do not have agreements or commitments for any material acquisitions at this time.”

In addition, cloud giant Salesforce.com has agreed to buy 5.9 million shares in a private placement through its venture capital arm after the IPO, the prospectus said.

In a prior filing last month disclosing its intention to go public, Dropbox said:

  • It has more than 500 million registered users in 180 countries.
  • 11 million users pay subscription fees for its file storage and syncing service.
  • Revenue jumped 30 percent in 2017 to $1.1 billion from $845 million in 2016.
  • Losses narrowed to $112 million from $210 million in the same period.
  • It will list under the stock symbol DBX on the Nasdaq.
  • Competitors include Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft and Atlassian.

Dropbox was founded by CEO Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi, both students of MIT, in 2007 with initial funding from Y Combinator. Its closest competitor is Redwood City-based Box, which has had a lackluster stock performance since its 2015 IPO.

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This is what your smartphone is doing to your brain — and it isn’t good

your brain on apps 1200px_bi graphics

Dopamine versus serotonin top image Samantha Lee/Business Insider
  • Scientists aren’t sure if technology is destroying our brains, but they’re pretty confident it’s addictive and can lead to depression.
  • It’s also slowing down our thinking processes.
  • And some tasks are better done off the phone, research suggests.
  • This is an installment of Business Insider’s “Your Brain on Apps” series that investigates how addictive apps can influence behavior.

All day long, we’re inundated by interruptions and alerts from our devices. Smartphones buzz to wake us up, emails stream into our inboxes, notifications from coworkers and far away friends bubble up on our screens, and “assistants” chime in with their own soulless voices.

Such interruptions seem logical to our minds: we want technology to help with our busy lives, ensuring we don’t miss important appointments and communications.

But our bodies have a different view: These constant alerts jolt our stress hormones into action, igniting our flight or flight response; our heartbeats quicken, our breathing tightens, our sweat glands burst open, and our muscles contract. That response is intended to help us outrun danger, not answer a call or text from a colleague.

We are simply not built to live like this.

woman phone smartphoneGarry Knight/Flickr (CC)

Our apps are taking advantage of our hard-wired needs for security and social interaction and researchers are starting to see how terrible this is for us. A full 89% of college students now report feeling “phantom” phone vibrations, imagining their phone is summoning them to attention when it hasn’t actually buzzed.Another 86% of Americans say they check their email and social media accounts “constantly,” and that it’s really stressing them out.

Endocrinologist Robert Lustig tells Business Insider that notifications from our phones are training our brains to be in a nearly constant state of stress and fear by establishing a stress-fear memory pathway. And such a state means that the prefrontal cortex, the part of our brains that normally deals with some of our highest-order cognitive functioning, goes completely haywire, and basically shuts down.

“You end up doing stupid things,” Lustig says. “And those stupid things tend to get you in trouble.”

Your brain can only do one thing at a time

Scientists have known for years what people often won’t admit to themselves: humans can’t really multi-task. This is true for almost all of us: about 97.5% of the population. The other 2.5% have freakish abilities; scientists call them “super taskers,” because they can actually successfully do more than one thing at once. They can drive while talking on the phone, without compromising their ability to gab or shift gears.

How dopamine and serotonin circulate differently in the brain Samantha Lee/Business Insider

But since only about 1 in 50 people are super taskers, the rest of us mere mortals are really only focusing on just one thing at a time. That means every time we pause to answer a new notification or get an alert from a different app on our phone, we’re being interrupted, and with that interruption we pay a price: something called a “switch cost.”Sometimes the switch from one task to another costs us only a few tenths of a second, but in a day of flip-flopping between ideas, conversations, and transactions on a phone or computer, our switch costs can really add up, and make us more error-prone, too. Psychologist David Meyer who’s studied this effect estimates that shifting between tasks can use up as much as 40% of our otherwise productive brain time.

Every time we switch tasks, we’re also shooting ourselves up with a dose of the stress hormone cortisol, Lustig says. The switching puts our thoughtful, reasoning prefrontal cortex to sleep, and kicks up dopamine, our brain’s addiction chemical.

In other words, the stress that we build up by trying to do many things at once when we really can’t is making us sick, and causing us to crave even more interruptions, spiking dopamine, which perpetuates the cycle.

More phone time, lazier brain

Our brains can only process so much information at a time, about 60 bits per second.

The more tasks we have to do, the more we have to choose how we want to use our precious brain power. So its understandable that we might want to pass some of our extra workload to our phones or digital assistants.

But there is some evidence that delegating thinking tasks to our devices could not only be making our brains sicker, but lazier too.

The combination of socializing and using our smartphones could be putting a huge tax on our brains.

Researchers have found smarter, more analytical thinkers are less active on their smartphone search engines than other people. That doesn’t mean that using your phone for searching causes you to be “dumber,” it could just be that these smarties are searching less because they know more. But the link between less analytical thinking and more smartphone scrolling is there.

We also know that reading up on new information on your phone can be a terrible way to learn. Researchers have shown that people who take in complex information from a book, instead of on a screen, develop deeper comprehension, and engage in more conceptual thinking, too.

Brand new research on dozens of smartphone users in Switzerland also suggests that staring at our screens could be making both our brains and our fingers more jittery.

In research published this month, psychologists and computer scientists have found an unusual and potentially troubling connection: the more tapping, clicking and social media posting and scrolling people do, the “noisier” their brain signals become. That finding took the researchers by surprise. Usually, when we do something more often, we get better, faster and more efficient at the task.

But the researchers think there’s something different going on when we engage in social media: the combination of socializing and using our smartphones could be putting a huge tax on our brains.

Social behavior, “may require more resources at the same time,” study author Arko Ghosh said, from our brains to our fingers. And that’s scary stuff.

Driving texting smartphoneFlickr/André-Pierre du Plessis

Should being on your phone in public be taboo?

Despite these troubling findings, scientists aren’t saying that enjoying your favorite apps is automatically destructive. But we do know that certain types of usage seem especially damaging.

Checking Facebook has been proven to make young adults depressed. Researchers who’ve studied college students’ emotional well-being find a direct link: the more often people check Facebook, the more miserable they are. But the incessant, misery-inducing phone checking doesn’t just stop there. Games like Pokemon GO or apps like Twitter can be addictive, and will leave your brain craving another hit.

Teens Texting Getty Images/Spencer Platt

Addictive apps are built to give your brain rewards, a spike of pleasure when someone likes your photo or comments on your post. Like gambling, they do it on an unpredictable schedule. That’s called a “variable ratio schedule”and its something the human brain goes crazy for.This technique isn’t just used by social media, it’s all over the internet. Airline fares that drop at the click of a mouse. Overstocked sofas that are there one minute and gone the next. Facebook notifications that change based on where our friends are and what they’re talking about. We’ve gotta have it all, we’ve gotta have more, and we’ve gotta have it now. We’re scratching addictive itches all over our screens.

Lustig says that even these kinds of apps aren’t inherently evil. They only become a problem when they are given free reign to interrupt us, tugging at our brains’ desire for tempting treats, tricking our brains into always wanting more.

“I’m not anti technology per se,” he counters. “I’m anti variable-reward technology. Because that’s designed very specifically to make you keep looking.”

Lustig says he wants to change this by drawing boundaries around socially acceptable smartphone use. If we can make a smartphone addiction taboo (like smoking inside buildings, for example), people will at least have to sanction their phone time off to delegated places and times, giving their brains a break.

“My hope is that we will come to a point where you can’t pull your cell phone out in public,” Lustig says.

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