Category Archives: Trending

What makes people hide from social networks?

Ello. Is this the social network you have been waiting for?

This is what happens when social networks like Facebook and Twitter start to veer off-course – disillusioned programmers come up with something they think everyone wants: ad-free, and to some extent – private.

Simplicity doesn’t necessarily mean beautiful.
Simplicity doesn’t necessarily mean beautiful.

Going incognito

But what does this ‘simple, beautiful & ad-free’ new platform actually achieve? At this early stage it all reeks of being a bit too cool for school… You get the sense it’s been designed for those desperate to stand out, but in the same breath want to rebel against the system, damn the man. There’s rebellion bubbling beneath the monochrome swooshes, but everything is so hidden it’s hard to fathom what’s really going on.

You want to hide? Sure, you can do that (along with everyone else who’s desperately trying to suss out if their friends are there too). We’re as good as invisible – but this isn’t entirely the happy outcome everyone thought it would be.

“Every post you share, every friend you make and every link you follow is tracked, recorded and converted into data. Advertisers buy your data so they can show you more ads. You are the product that’s bought and sold…”

OK, maybe we’re overplaying Ello’s original modus-operandi here – but deep down it is still driving at the same thing.

Why is anonymity so important?

Beards. It does beards well. A number of the site’s founders sport impressive facial furniture.
Beards. It does beards well. A number of the site’s founders sport impressive facial furniture.

Social networks (by their very nature) are social. They are a not palm-laden solace for shying away from the wandering eyes of the world.

Many will surely (mistakenly) flock to Ello for peace of mind -after all, a few lofty statements go a long way… But on the face of it, it seems that Ello is no different: The information Ello collects includes your location, language, referring web site, and time spent visiting Ello.

Dig a little deeper and we note that users can however opt to switch this tracking off by visiting their settings page. With the best intentions this still won’t stop your browser from communicating/disclosing your activity to Internet servers the world over – albeit anonymously – so is there really such a thing as going dark?

On its ‘WTF’ page Ello reiterates that it respects a browser’s Do Not Track preferences, but notes such efforts are effectively null and void if you happen to use Chrome, or use services Google-powered search services or YouTube.

Did you manage to get an invite? You can add me on mfsmith20 and we can explore this crazy place together…

What do you make of it all: do you think that Ello has a worthwhile place in society? 

Would you trust your deliveries to a drone?

Google has just shown its secret ‘Project Wing’ drone-based delivery system to the world.

The fruits of the work  Google’s shadowy X research arm has achieved so far can be seen in the video below:

During a test-run Project Wing flew through the Queensland skies to successfully deliver supplies to Australian farmers.

To accompany the video Google provided the following:

“Throughout history, major shifts in how we move goods from place to place have led to new opportunities for economic growth and generally made consumers’ lives easier. From steam ships to the railroads, from the postal service to delivery services like FedEx and DHL, speed has reshaped society not only with greater convenience but also by making more goods accessible to more people.”

It continued: “Self-flying vehicles could open up entirely new approaches to moving goods – including options that are cheaper, faster, less wasteful and more environmentally sensitive than what’s possible today.”

The prototype is based on a single-wing drone design, and measures just 1.5m-wide (5ft). Four adjustable propellers control the drone through the flight, moving accordingly throughout its journey. In this example the goods to be delivered fit snugly in gap located in the middle of the wing.

Drone wars

For once Google isn’t first to the punch… Internet retailer Amazon has been toying with a drone delivery programme since it announced the ‘Prime Air’ service towards the latter end of 2013.

Of course, the fight for air supremacy doesn’t end with Amazon vs. Google… Aviation rules would need to be changed to allow use of unmanned civilian aircraft systems. What’s more, drones also fly in the face of dyed-in-the-wool privacy regulations, as many believe that drones have the potential to infringe on our base privacy rights.

And finally: Disney wants to use floating drones to power floating puppets… further proof (if it were needed) that the future is shaping-up to be pretty weird.

Google’s asking for interested parties to express their interest using this online form. Want to read more? The Atlantic has a comprehensive write-up about Project Wing on its website.

Walmart pimped-up its fleet – capable of massive loads

Now that’s what I call a truck…

The Walmart Advanced Vehicle Experience concept truck is the latest in the retailer’s fleet efficiency program.

The one-of-a-kind prototype offers a whole package of firsts. The tractor boasts advanced aerodynamics and is powered by a prototype advanced turbine-powered, range-extending series hybrid powertrain. It certainly sounds impressive, even if we’re not 100 per cent sure what it does…

The trailer is made almost exclusively with carbon fiber, saving around 4,000 pounds that can then be utilised to carry more freight.

Would this transform your transportation services?

Twitter experiment in favorited tweets reveals dark side of social networking

In my best Carrie Bradshaw voiceover, I have to ask: are we all just social network test-subjects?

A lot of criticism has been levelled at Twitter over its new, stealth, timeline experiment.

Matt Farrington Smith talks about Twitter favorites experiment

In an effort to engage newbies, Twitter has been sharing users ‘favourite’ tweets in the timelines of people they follow. The offending tweets appear as retweets, further adding to the confusion.

Let’s get this straight, we make the choice to actively follow people on Twitter that we have an interest in. We enjoy reading their tweets, along with any retweets they make. We don’t expect to start seeing tweets from accounts we have never followed appearing in our timeline.

I don’t really see the benefits of favouriting tweets, why favourite when a retweet proves more effective? But I appreciate there are occasions when all you want to do is stick a pin in something (or need to acknowledge a Tweet). For these reasons alone Twitter’s favourite function is tailored more towards private use, moreover than consumption by the masses.

Of course by their very nature social networks need to adapt and grow. Changes are inevitable, but many users have been left puzzled as to why Twitter didn’t provide a heads-up out of courtesy. In-fact the last time Twitter spoke about its experiments was back in 2013: https://blog.twitter.com/2013/experiments-twitter

At the time of writing there is no discernible way to turn this ‘feature’ off. Plus it transcends all Twitter-supported platforms, meaning you’ll encounter it whether you’re on mobile, tablet, or desktop.

Facebook’s psychology experiments

“I’m not a lab rat!” Just a couple of months back, the Internet was awash with similar cries from Facebook users after it was revealed that Zucks’ and company had secretly carried out experiments on a sample of 700k.

The experiments involved manipulating users’ news feeds to control the emotional expressions they were subjected to.

It’s possible to view this as part of a wider ethical debate – is Facebook really allowed to play with our emotions and purposefully make us feel sad?

Facebook makes 600,000 users sad

In its defence, Facebook did speak-up about the experiments. Adam Kramer, a data scientist at Facebook revealed:

“Having written and designed this experiment myself, I can tell you that our goal was never to upset anyone. I can understand why some people have concerns about it, and my coauthors and I are very sorry for the way the paper described the research and any anxiety it caused.”

He went on to explain the rationale behind such a study: “We felt that it was important to investigate the common worry that seeing friends post positive content leads to people feeling negative or left out”.

“At the same time, we were concerned that exposure to friends’ negativity might lead people to avoid visiting Facebook.”

Social networks are fragmenting over time

You could argue that Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn (and other networks of their ilk) are so far-removed from their genesis, they’re almost unrecognisable.

When Facebook changed the algorithm that determined how often posts by pages were shown in news feeds, many felt like they were being unfairly penalized.

The change involved Facebook prioritizing content that it deems more relevant to users, but it also means page owners need to now pay should they want to reach the audience they once reached.

Sometimes less is more. This is especially true when it comes to the unending torrent of crap that spews forth daily in our news feeds. Important updates from your nearest and dearest are now punctuated by promoted or sponsored messages.

In some ways this barrage of promoted posts/tweets/statuses are like the pop-up adverts of old. The difference being your ad-blocking software proves resilient to this scourge…

Acting as Community Editor for Procurious I should point out that we take upmost care when it comes to our users’ privacy.  If you want to be part of an ethical online network that values its members, and won’t enforce experimental changes on you needlessly – then you should really stick with us.

Is this the world’s most connected man?

Say hello to “the most connected human on Earth”.

The name Chris Dancy probably doesn’t mean much to you now, but after watching this video you’ll find it hard to pass him in the street…

Here Chris talks to The Wall St Journal candidly about how tracking his life has helped him, and whether he envisions a day when everyone will do the same.

Chris Dancy has been tracking his life for the past five years and is now often connected to as many as 700 sensors, devices, apps, and services at a time.  With these he is able to monitor, analyse, and optimize every minutiae of his person to alter the way his body works.

Chris is a fascinating (if bizarre) half-man, half-machine. However we can’t help but wonder if he’s gone a step too far. After-all, it is a hell of a commitment, and you wouldn’t want to be stuck behind him in the queue for airport security…

4 of the best productivity apps and websites

No matter how motivated we think we are, we all experience that productivity-lull – and it doesn’t just happen on Friday’s…

Thankfully we’re dosed-up on caffeine, and have ploughed headlong into the world of productivity apps and useful websites so you don’t have too.

Here are a smattering of our current favourites:

Best productivity tools: Slack messaging app

Slack

We’ve crushed on Slack hard here at Procurious HQ… We’ve had to tell Jack (Product Manager) off for making googly eyes at his screen, and the idea was to boost productivity!

Tony Conrad (founder of About.me) says the following: “I am basically in love with Slack. It took us less than 24 hours to get everyone on board (as you know, people are resistant to change), and it is amazing.” But this could come from any number of fresh Slack converts…

Slack brings all of your communication together in one place. It takes all the best bits from your MSN Messenger’s, Skype’s, and Lync’s, while leaving all the needless bloat behind. Its clean and uncluttered interface means nothing gets in the way of the meat and potatoes of

The best bit? Slack is completely free to use (for as long as you want), and with an unlimited number of people too. Go team go!
Yo app gets new features

Yo

Today we’re revisiting Yo – the simplistic, throwaway app has graduated to big-boy pants and somewhat surprisingly has attracted even more funding…

Remind yourself what we said about it first-time round. 

The #firstmovers among you may still have Yo installed – and if so you might like to know that its just received its first considerable update. But with it comes an extra layer of complexity, one we’re not entirely sure is needed.

Yo Link adds the ability to chaperone your ‘Yo’ with a URL – Or Arbel (Yo Founder) says this of the functionality: “News websites can now offer not only getting instant Yo notifications when a story breaks, but also attach the story itself and readers can open it in a frictionless and convenient way.”

Hashtags are also now supported.

The beauty (or madness, depending on who you asked) of Yo, was its purposefully limited offering. Has Yo’s visionary over-egged the pudding?

Best productivity tools: Timeful app

Timeful

Are you an iPhone user, and suffer from poor time-management? As luck would have it, we have the very app for you…  Timeful aims to take the weight off your heavy shoulders by helping you to get things scheduled and completed more effectively.

Timeful arrives in an already crowded market, but because it syncs with your calendars (Google, Microsoft Exchange, Apple iCal, etc.) it can use its intelligent time management system to help you make the best use of your time by suggesting things for you. The app also allows the user to add specific to-do items and ’habits’ they would like to turn into recurring activities.

What’s more, the more you use it, the better it gets. Over time, our algorithms will learn what you like to do and when you like to do it, which will help generate more accurate suggestions.

Android users fear not – a version is reportedly in the works, as is a web-based edition. So soon you’ll all have so much free time you won’t know what to do with it… Spend it on Procurious yeah?

Best productivity tools: Buffer app for iOS and Android Buffer

While we’re not playing around with the excellent IFTTT or Friends+Me services – we’re turning our eye to the equally-awesome Buffer app. It’s definitely worth a go if you find yourself juggling posts across multiple social networks…

By making Buffer part of your daily routine you don’t need to worry about lumping all of your social media updates together in one period. Just bash some posts out, save and schedule them to be pushed out throughout the day (or week).

Buffer will play quite happily with your Internet browser (Chrome, Safari, and Firefox are all supported), just install one of the browser extensions, then click the Buffer icon whenever you spot something shareable.

There’s integration with Twitter, Facebook, Google+ (and more) under the hood, plus it offers both web and mobile access so you can post and schedule updates even if away from the computer.

How far would you go for charity?

Since we published this story, the #IceBucketChallenge has spread to front pages the world over. To view an ever-updating list of participants visit this exhaustive Wikipedia page.

What’s the idea behind it? To raise awareness (and money) for the ALS Association, who research the motor neurone disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. However in Britain this money instead goes to Macmillan Cancer Support.

From 29 July 2014 the challenge has generated a whopping $22.9 million in contributions.

Updated with Bill Gates Ice Bucket Challenge:

Question: Have you ever seen Mark Zuckerberg pour a bucket of ice-cold water on himself?

Answer: Yep, now you have.

Microsoft’s CEO – Satya Nadella, previously stepped-up to the ice-cold mantle. By completing the Ice Bucket Challenge, Zuck’s got to nominate three people of his choosing, namely: Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Netflix CEO Read Hastings, and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. Not high-profile choices at all then…

Those nominated have just 24 hour to give themselves a dousing, or donate to the ALS Foundation. Of course they can always choose to do both.

Are you inspired by Zuckerberg’s show of charity, and would you do the same? 

Why your business card is a piece of crap…

What’s your business card like?

We don’t know about you, but we like to feel quality between our fingertips. You can keep your flimsy sub 350gsm paper, we won’t settle for anything but your finest paper stock…

The business card is an important part of your relationship-building arsenal, if you’re wanting to create a lasting impression your card better be up to the task. If your calling card is sub-standard, it doesn’t say much about the quality of the service or products you’re flogging.

However let’s not get bogged down in talk of gsm, this Kickstarter project has gone one better. The swivelCard fuses the traditional business card with cutting-edge technology to create a truly smart card.

Not only does it feature a USB interface, but it provides you with remote access to the card (so you make changes to the card’s content on the fly, view usage info etc.)

That’s not a business card

This is a business card… Here are some of our favourites (thank you Internet!):

Involved Channel/Shutterstock.com

Now that’s a business card that every sommelier would be proud of… *hic*

Folding chair business card

This folding model chair was used to promote a London business which specialised in vintage/modernist furniture. Swish.

Divorce lawyer tearable business card

What better way for a divorce lawyer to sell his/her services to those with broken hearts?

Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook business card

Read the story behind Mark Zuckerberg’s infamous business card – here.

And finally: No-one knows whether the Chinese Tycoon Chen Guangbiao was being serious when he put in an order for 100+ of these beauties…

Chen Guangbiao business card
Image: Business Insider

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24 of the most mesmerising machines

Working in procurement you are closer than most to the thing that ultimately ends up rolling off the production line. But have you ever thought to yourself ‘how DID that come to be?’

Lucky for you then that the inquisitive minds over at How It’s Made, and those kings of the viral tap – Buzzfeed, have put together a little video that shows 24 examples of the world’s most awe-inspiring machinery.

We bet you can’t  identify what all 24 of them do…

Are apples and potatoes the sustainable energy source of the future?

Could you power your supply chain with apples and oranges?

Outside Westfield shopping centre in London’s Shepherd’s Bush, Microsoft and Carphone Warehouse have unveiled one of the world’s biggest science experiments…

Behold an enormous 20ft wide and 8ft high installation featuring a phenomenal amount of fruit and vegetables, which, amazingly, is able to wirelessly charge a Nokia Lumia smartphone.

Microsoft and Carphone Warehouse teamed up with Caleb Charland, a science enthusiast and artist, to create the magnificent charging art piece. Inspired by the school science project, where an electrical current is generated using a potato, Caleb created ‘Back To Light’ his latest body of work.

Caleb has now applied this method to create the Lumia organic charger using 800 apples and potatoes.

Bet you wish you’d paid more attention in your science class now?