Wait What 5/27: Memorial Day Weekend Edition: iPhone Struggles, Sleeping Tesla Drivers and a Weed Gym

Barbecues, weekend trips, spending time with friends and family…you’re probably looking forward to the long weekend. We’re going to send you off the best way we know how – with our list of the top tech news stories of the week.image_198

  • When you hear the words “iPhone” and “drop” in the same sentence, it either means that A) the new iPhone is about to drop! Or B) you dropped your iPhone while you were playing Candy Crush on the toilet. In this case – it’s neither. This week Apple released its March period earnings, which reported that iPhone sales have dropped as a result of competition between the iPhone SE and the iPhone 6S.
  • Leave it to Dubai to come up with this one: a 3D printed office building. Turns out, all you need to create a gorgeous, state of the art skyscraper is what’s known in the industry as “a big-ass 3D printer.”
  • Trouble in Tech-adise? The New York Times published an exposé on the legal battle between Gawker Media and PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel. Turns out, Thiel was footing the bill for Hulk Hogan’s $10 million lawsuit against Gawker Media after the site published his sex tape. Thiel has a history with Gawker Media. The media company revealed his sexual orientation without permission, and said some less-than-friendly things about him on its site. So, the guy took action.
  • The most Bay Area thing ever? A new gym will open in San Francisco, at which members will be allowed to consume cannabis while working out. Though it’ll likely spark some controversy (get it?) – we’re sure there are plenty of folks that are thrilled about the news. SF is Silicon Valley’s backyard – and what people do in their backyards is their business. It is called high-tech, after all.
  • It’s what we basically all imagine when we picture ourselves in automated or driverless cars. A video of a Tesla owner, asleep at the wheel, is making its way around the Internet. Apparently, the Tesla Mobile S Autopilot system is so reliable, that drivers can just kick back and grab a nap! Honestly, this guy seems like a perfect candidate for a membership to that gym we were just talking about.

You’ve got the news – now head out and enjoy the sun this weekend. Or if you’re like some of us, you’ll just be inside waiting for Sunday’s Game of Thrones episode.

Wait! What? April Fools Edition: Pranks, Jokes, and Fake-Outs

We’ve come to the end of another week, and that means it’s time for us to ask the important questions. No – not whether or not Apple will figure out how the FBI finally hacked into that iPhone, or any of the big stories coming out of Microsoft Build this week – we’re more interested in how the tech industry has done April 1st throughout the years.

Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 6.35.52 PMThat’s right folks. It’s the Wait! What? April Fools Edition!!

  • Talk about cutting edge! Last year, Samsung announced The Samsung Blade Edge – a special version of the Galaxy S6 Edge phone that doubles as a knife for food prep. The gadget boasted a finger sensor to prevent you from cutting off those digits. Not gonna lie…we kind of wish this one were real.
  • Pac Man Takes Over: Google pretty much always nails it when it comes to pranks, which is why they are on this list twice! Remember last year when you checked out Google Maps to get directions only to find that you were trapped in a world of PacMan dots and fruit-eating ghosts? Yeah. Props, Google.
  • Have your cake and eat tech too? In 2014, Sony “released” Sony Power Foods saying that users could eat the Power Foods and become their own walking phone charger. They even put out a press release. Way to commit guys!
  • Pandas. Nuff said. Google makes another appearance on our short list with last year’s adorable panda prank. Google Japan released a YouTube video of VP of Engineering Chris Yerga announcing the launch of Google Panda, a talking stuffed animal panda that answers all your questions. We now know, of course, that Panda is just a regular ol’ algorithm change. No cute or cuddly stuff involved.
  • You had me at Hulu. For our final tech industry prank acknowledgement, we’d like to give a shout out to Hulu for its hilarious dating platform Datr, which was announced today. Let’s be honest. All that really matters about other people are what TV shows they watch, so it kind of makes sense.

In conclusion – the tech industry loves pranks. We like to think we can take a joke. Well guess what? This entire post was an elaborate prank! There is no April Fools Day Wait! What? Edition! This was just a regular … oh wait. Yep, never mind. This is a Wait! What? April Fools Day Edition post. Or was it? HELP!!!

Share your favorite tech pranks with us on Twitter, @BlancandOtus!

Wait! What? Fallout 4 Breaks Records, a Robot that tells you how to sleep and…the new Justin Bieber album

It’s that time again, when we wrap up the week’s best tech stories and send you on your way towards the weekend. While you’ve been busy waiting in line for the new Justin Bieber album, we were keeping track of all the tech-tastic news stories we knew you’d want to hear about.

Play videogame with controller

  • Whether you’re still hunkered down somewhere playing Assassin’s Creed Syndicate from last month, or you’re climbing a mountain in Siberia with Lara Croft, you probably took some time out of your busy schedule to download Fallout 4 like the rest of the world. Fallout 4 broke some pretty insane records this week – one of which we can’t even talk about! Needless to say, millions of people won’t be going outside at all this weekend, because the apocalypse is too freakin’ fun.
  • The best part of waking up … is when you’ve slept enough (you know you want to sing it). A new app called Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock listens to all the super weird sounds you make at night, mixes it all up in a math milkshake, and plops out some information about how well you’re sleeping. It sets the alarm time for you based on the ideal time it thinks you should wake up. Hmm…I kind of thought the ideal time to wake up was THE TIME I SET ON MY ALARM CLOCK! What are you doing weird robot sleep app? Don’t mess with my schedule!
  • Be there or be Square, or don’t be there and also don’t be square. Seriously, we aren’t in charge of your decisions. Square, the cute little payment tool that you use every time you buy fusion banh mi from a hipster food truck, is in the midst of an uphill battle for an IPO. The company has suffered an increase in transaction losses as a result of concerns about fraud.
  • Ever wonder what’s behind someone’s smile? Is that person truly happy or just pretending? Well, Microsoft has a new facial recognition app that can supposedly identify emotion based on facial expressions. So…like what a human does. Thanks Microsoft?
  • No more wacky autopilot antics for Tesla drivers! Elon Musk stated that Tesla would be implementing additional restrictions to its autopilot tool, in an effort to prevent drivers form attempting dangerous maneuvers. We can only assume that these new limitations will be a sign inside every Tesla that says “Don’t be an idiot.”

Ok, we’ve done all we can but the rest is up to you. Now go find a casual get together with some strangers where you can bring up all these stories, and be known as the most interesting person in the room!

Wait! What? 8/21: Target’s Vigilante Troll, Amazon’s Big Oops and an Airport Powered by the Sun

Credit: ThinkStock
Credit: ThinkStock

Greetings PR-aficionados! What’s that? Yes, it has been a while. Since we last spoke, a lot has happened, including the addition of our new General Manager, Annemiek Hamelinck, who’s been doing a truly stellar job of leading our troop of misfits. The tech scene has been crazy, and we’re going to catch you right the heck up.

It’s time for our latest installment of “Wait! What?”

  • You’re simply THE BEST!” is what Tina Turner might say about the hilarious vigilante that took to social media, posing as Target and defending the company’s decision to remove gender distinctions in some sections of its stores. We laughed ‘til we cried and really appreciated this moment of faux justice.
  • Holy company culture, Batman! If you’ve been living under a rock for the past week, you might not know that Amazon is having some issues – of the miserable employee variety. The New York Times published an expose looking at the company’s intense, and unforgiving culture. Amazon – you should probably take a look at our Instagram for some happy-employee inspiration.
  • On a more positive note, an airport in India has announced it will be completely powered by solar panels. Us clean tech geeks are excited to see solar tech being used on such a large scale and hope there is more to come! Yeah…no joke here. Sometimes we can be serious, OK?!
  • Now, I know my ABC’s… Although the announcement of Alphabet as Google’s parent company has been clogging up your browser for the past two weeks, we’re more interested in the smaller, mind-bogglingly futuristic companies that fall under the umbrella, like the forever young anti-aging biotech company Calico, and of course, the infinitely inventive Google X.
  • “Why does the GPS say that he’s driving away from us…?” is normally the first thing that comes to mind when the name “Uber” pops up. This time, however, it’s all about the rumored IPO, which was mentioned in a document leaked to Reuters. Of course, the company chose not to comment on the rumor, but the cat is out of the bag (which would be a terrible thing to happen in an Uber, by the way).

So now you’re all caught up on this week’s big tech stories and hopefully have something cool to bring up at brunch this weekend. Tweet us your fave stories of the week @blancandotus!

Wait! What? 6/26: T-Swift and Apple shake off dispute, #LoveWins for brands

This is really, really colorful. (Thinkstock Photos)
This is really, really colorful. (Thinkstock Photos)

While you were recovering from the season finale of Game of Thrones, we were scouring the web for our favorite tech stories of the week. Take a break from your “Jon Snow’s not dead” debate – because it’s time for this week’s Wait! What?

  • Seriously, Taylor, we’re going to let you finish. Taylor Swift stood up to “The Man” so to speak by threatening to withhold her 1989 album from Apple Music…and then giving it back almost immediately when they responded with a very neutral letter. Victorious PR stunt?
  • Safety first, then teamwork. We are fascinated with Samsung’s new safety truck that features a video feed of the road ahead. It’s lane change time, y’all!
  • Speaking of driving, Uber is well on its way to a PR meltdown in France.
  • Even though few people actually own them, media can’t stop talking about smartwatches, because they’re futuristic and cool. So, how can marketers handle the challenge of the smartwatch? Embrace push notifications, be adaptive and create an ownable experience for publishers.
  • And finally, on a serious note, we are absolutely thrilled that the Supreme Court ruled to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states! Now check out these awesomely supportive tweets from brands that know what’s up.

That’s all – join us next week for a fresh new batch of news at the heart of PR and technology.

Wait! What? 5/15: Shape-shifting planes, secret agent desks, and Facebook’s controversial new feature

It's a bird, it's a plane! It's a plane. (Credit: Jim Ross, NASA)
It’s a bird, it’s a plane! It’s a plane. (Credit: Jim Ross, NASA)

Lots of big announcements this week in our beloved world of tech, but if you wanted to read about Verizon’s acquisition of AOL or the new Gmail login screen – you’ve come to the wrong place. As usual, we’re more interested in the weirder, more wackadoodle stories that you weren’t paying attention to over the past seven days. Buckle up – it’s time for this week’s roundup:

  • NASA successfully tested a plane with shape-changing wings. Will we ever get tired of futuristic space-stuff? No, we won’t – and before you say anything, ‘space-stuff’ is the term used by actual scientists.
  • Feeling less Ethan Hunt-y than usual? No problem. Introducing Sharetable, the desk that makes every other desk look like complete garbage. Its surface features a shareable screen connected to your desktop monitor, so that the person sitting across from you can see what you’re seeing. Although, he won’t be able to see the expression of total awe on his own face, since that view is reserved for you.
  • All the pretty girls love Samsung? Britney Spears and Iggy Azalea released the video for their song “Pretty Girls,” in which Iggy uses her space-alien super powers to transform Brit’s old school cell phone into a gigantic Samsung Galaxy something or other (marketing!). We don’t really have time to go through all of the problems with the video – but our main concern is that Iggy seems to think that robots and aliens are the same thing.
  • Media no-likey Facebook’s “Instant Articles.” Facebook announced “Instant Articles,” sparking controversy among media outlets. They’re concerned that the new feature will make it difficult for publishers to control their own content. They have a point, but we’re pretty sure that Facebook has been aggregating content for a while now, simply through its users. You know…because, like…cat videos.
  • If we use Waze, can we skip the rush-hour traffic out of King’s Landing? The answer is no, because you can’t just leave King’s Landing, and this totally awesome Google Map of Westeros isn’t connected to Waze.

Now you’re all caught up. Hopefully some of this will come up in your next round of bar trivia.

Wait! What? 2/20: Siri’s new relative, Netflix dating and Lenovo’s Superfish-y behavior

"The Notebook! We love that one equally." (Thinkstock)
“The Notebook! We love that one equally.” (Thinkstock)

Happy Friday! It’s been a week of highs (Gung hay fat choy!), lows (Fifty Shades of Lame…er…Grey), and mediums (meh…other stuff). Before you get to work on your BDSM/Chinese New Year-themed Oscar party, get the run-down on our favorite tech news from the week:

  • And the Oscar goes to … digital marketing? The biggest award show of the year is this Sunday, and with last year’s viewership reaching around 43 million, digital marketers aren’t wasting a drop of that Hollywood advertising gold. Expect targeted social media campaigns and real-time interactive ad experiences, and probably Jennifer Lawrence somewhere.
  • Va…Va…Viv! We never get tired of artificial intelligence stories, especially when they come from the hands of the creators of Siri. Viv, the AI interface that learns from the world to improve upon its capabilities, just closed on $12.5 million in Series B funding.
  • Speaking of weird…check out this video game that gives you an anxiety attack. Italian game developers created Sym, a puzzle-platformer that becomes increasingly confusing and stressful as you reach higher levels. Are we going to play it? That’s a HARD pass. But no.
  • Valentine’s Day might be over, but love is still in the air… and on your Netflix account. A new app called Binger takes a unique approach to digital matchmaking by comparing Netflix viewing data rather than personality questions or body measurements. Cool! Let’s just delete our viewing histories of Vanderpump Rules.
  • Lenovo? More like LeNoNo. This week it surfaced that Lenovo has been shipping PCs with spyware pre-installed to track customer activity online. Superfish, as it’s called, leaves gaping security holes wide open for hackers. Our thoughts on this story are as follows: “…Really?”

That about wraps it up! Keep the news a-comin’, tech world. We love ya and we actually would be ruined without you. See you next week!

Pitching Shades of Grey

The phenomenon that is Fifty Shades of Grey is sweeping the nation – nay, the world. We’ll admit it…we’re not immune to the buzz. We love buzz! Buzz is what we do. So buckle up, strap in and come up with a third innuendo for this sentence, because we’re sharing the five things Christian Grey taught us about media relations.

1. Be clear and keep a cool head.

greyspam.tumblr.com
greyspam.tumblr.com

When pitching, be clear about the story, and provide all the top line information right off the bat. Also, don’t get overly excited when a reporter expresses interest – it could scare off your target, and the opportunity could finish prematurely.

2. Subject headings are vital. 

imyours90.tumblr.com
imyours90.tumblr.com

In the book, Ana and Christian talk a lot via e-mail and their phones (enterprise mobile collaboration, or sexting?). They keep those subject headings interesting. That’s something to keep in mind when pitching a reporter who’s already sifting through hundreds of emails with stale subject headings.

Also, cool it with the ellipses, guys. Don’t start a sentence in the subject field and finish in the body – the body of the e-mail! Get your minds out of the gutter.

3. Mutual satisfaction. (What’s in it for them?)

foreversours.tumblr.com
foreversours.tumblr.com

Sure your client gets coverage, but what’s in it for the writer? Pitch a story that will lend itself to the larger scope of your media target’s work. That way, both parties come away satisfied.

4. Do your research. 

zoesaldans.tumblr.com
zoesaldans.tumblr.com

As the head of a giant corporation – or whatever the heck his job is – Christian needs to always be in the know. He takes it a bit far when he finds out Ana’s email address, place of work and life history without permission – but hey, the guy’s got balls – and not the kind your thinking of.

This should go without saying, but you must research your targets before pitching. Understand their coverage areas, and read as much of their material as you can. Reporters can smell a cookie cutter pitch from a mile away.

5. Tie up loose ends. 

havecoloursinyourlife.tumblr.com
havecoloursinyourlife.tumblr.com

We know it’s a bit obvious, but humor us – you’re still reading this thing after all. What we’re talking about here is closing the loop. Always follow up to thank the reporter and provide any additional materials – but don’t go overboard. One email is usually plenty.

Whether you choose to see the movie, or lie and say you didn’t, we won’t judge you. You can just tell everyone you were doing research on pitching!

Wait! What? 11/7: Printed food, Amazon Echo and Swift v. Spotify

Printed pizza dough, obviously. (Credit: Natural Machines)
Printed pizza dough, obviously. (Credit: Natural Machines)

It’s been an exciting week! An election and the partnership of Microsoft and Dropbox? We’re still trying to decide which couple-name is best: Microbox or Dropsoft. On second thought, let’s talk about the tech stories you missed while you were trying to figure out the difference between the judges on your ballot (don’t act like you knew):

  • We never get sick of totally wacky futuristic products, like this 3D food printer known as the Foodini, but honestly after watching their video, we’d be fine just printing an image of a pizza on a piece of paper and eating that instead.
  • Your home could be one step closer to ‘smart’ if you purchase the new Amazon Echo, a sort of universal controller for your home that obeys voice commands. Careful about going on vacation though. When you leave the house, Echo, Cortana and Siri throw massive ragers.
  • Did Taylor Swift just take a huge stand against the streaming music industry? This week, everyone’s favorite “down-to-earth” megastar pulled all of her albums from Spotify, right in the middle of the buzz generated by her new album. We should stop to think about this genuinely important issue, but first – let’s debate which famous exes her songs are all about!
  • Researchers at the University of Washington successfully demonstrated mind-to-mind communication. Yep. Telepathy. Come on guys – How are we supposed to make clever remarks when it’s this on the nose. No. We literally can’t.
  • Do you miss Cash Cab? Of course you do – you’re not a monster! If you’re in San Francisco, you’ll be glad to know that the next UberPOOL you take could be an Uber CashPOOL – a surprise round of trivia for the duration of your ride, with cash prizes. Start brushing up on U.S. State Capitals!

That’s all for this week’s edition of Wait! What? Enjoy the weekend, and take comfort in the knowledge that we will catch you up on the week’s best tech stories next Friday – because we care…and because we can’t help ourselves.

Wait! What? 9/5: Amazon’s latest acquisition, Cortana’s latest play against Siri, and…skateboard backpacks?

Credit: NASA
Credit: NASA

While the rest of the world was trying to disable iCloud on their phones in the wake of a massive celebrity selfie hack, we were keeping tabs on the tech stories we knew you’d want to check out:

There you have it! Now you’re ready for the weekend. Check back in next week when we fill you in on the latest and greatest in tech news that’ll make you say, “Wait! What?”