Ivanka Trump's Punk Phase and Ted Cruz's Tweeting Top This Week's Internet News

Following a week in which Twitter announced a schedule to try and make the platform less awful and the Scaramucci Post seemed hellbent on proving all of its critics right, it’s important to take a moment to think about what’s really important in life.

Please remember @catsu as you explore the mixed bag of randomness the internet offered over the last seven days. It might be the only thing that will keep you sane.

Punk as … Huh?

What Happened: Of all the Trump children, which one do you think is the most likely to have listened to Nirvana and really felt bad when Kurt Cobain died? The answer may surprise you, if you were thinking Eric or Donald Jr.

What Really Happened: Even this far into our relationship with the First Daughter, Ivanka Trump knows how to surprise us all, it seems.

The story came from Ivanka’s latest memoir, Raising Trump, in which she writes about her “punk phase in the nineties,” when she was “really into Nirvana.” Twitter was, shall we say, somewhat unconvinced:

While the media reported on Ivanka’s Twitter dragging, someone realized folks could simply go back and look at photos of Ivanka during this punk phase and see the evidence first-hand:

The Takeaway: Oh, it’s easy to mock, but there are always more layers to the truth than people think.

Thank You for Your Service

What Happened: If there was one issue being discussed more than any other on social media last week, it was the ways in which a president should console grieving military families.

What Really Happened: In one of the stranger moments of political theater in recent months—an increasingly competitive space, let’s be honest—President Trump responded to a question about his lack of comment on the deaths of US soldiers in Niger by criticizing President Obama over whether or not he’d called families of fallen soldiers. Trump, of course, said that he would certainly call the families of the dead soldiers when he felt it was appropriate, which seemingly turned the whole incident into an even bigger embarrassment for all involved.

Wait. What? The report came from US congresswoman Frederica Wilson (D-Florida), a friend of the family of Army Sgt. La David Johnson, who heard Trump’s call to his widow on speakerphone. “We were in the car together, in the limousine headed to meet the body at the airport,” Wilson would later tell CNN’s Don Lemon. “So I heard what he said because the phone was on speaker.” Twitter was … not impressed.

While all of this undoubtedly looked bad for the president, it was almost certain that the White House would announce that he didn’t actually say that…

OK, sure; WH spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders might not have denied it, but the president himself certainly did.

How could he have not? After all, it’s the perfect defense for him, considering that the reports had come from a representative of the opposing party. And it’s not as if the widow herself had confirmed the report. Sure, the soldier’s mother did confirm it, but all that really meant was that the back-and-forth was on.

Let’s not forget that the president said he had proof that Wilson was lying. What kind of proof was he talking about?

It would turn out, days later, that there’s apparently an official transcript of the call which, inexplicably, the president’s family has apparently read. But if White House chief of staff John Kelly was present, surely he—a military veteran who has lost his own son in service—would back up the president.

Oh… Good?

The Takeaway: Well, at least the president didn’t speak to any other grieving parents.

Melania, Is That You?

What Happened: As if 2017 wasn’t strange enough already, last week Americans found themselves asking, “What if the First Lady of the United States wasn’t actually the First Lady of the United States?”

What Really Happened: This one is surreal and wonderful. Early last week, the president made a public appearance accompanied by his wife Melania. Except, to some, she didn’t quite look like Melania.

For whatever reason—paranoia, boredom, the sheer glee of starting such a ridiculous meme—the internet quickly embraced the possibility that Melania Trump had been replaced by someone else in public appearances.

Unsurprisingly, mainstream media couldn’t resist joining in on such a dumb, great idea. One report even claimed credit for the Fake Melania idea in general, suggesting that the real deal is currently hiding in “a small town somewhere in Missouri, where she works on a volunteer basis at a center offering counseling and support to refugees and immigrants.” Well, it’s not impossible

The Takeaway: If nothing else, it’s a silly enough idea that people want to believe it.

Here’s Another Clue for You All

What Happened: Sometimes, it might not be the best idea to try and reclaim a meme that involves you being a serial killer.

What Really Happened: Hey, remember that meme that perpetuated the idea that US senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was the Zodiac Killer? Well, last week Cruz himself got in on the joke.

…Yes, really. That’s not a mistake, or even the kind of thing that is claimed to be a mistake after the fact; Ted Cruz actually tweeted out a letter from the Zodiac Killer. There is, of course, context for why he did this, but why ruin everything by looking at facts?

Not everyone was a fan of Cruz participating in his own meme, however.

Certainly, while the media was thrilled Cruz was joining in, some believed that he had killed the joke by doing so. Then again, maybe there was an entirely different reason for Cruz to post the meme.

Does he? And how has that worked out for him?

So, yes. It’s all going swimmingly, if that was his intent. Good job, Ted!

The Takeaway: Before we leave Cruz to ponder how much the senator has embarrassed himself here, let’s appreciate the very best response of all.

(Get it? No? Read this.)

Louder Than Bombs

What Happened: In the case of Florida v. Richard Spencer, the Sunshine State came out on top.

What Really Happened: White supremacist, alt-right leader, and punch receiver Richard Spencer had a public appearance at the University of Florida last Thursday. It was certainly something that seemed like a big deal ahead of time, with the state governor declaring a state of emergency before the event, fearful of violent protests. And, sure enough, ahead of the actual appearance, everyone was very aware of the possibility of something going down.

Sure enough, at the event itself, there were protests—but they didn’t go the way anyone expected.

Also: Campus bells played “Lift Every Voice and Sing” as Spencer prepared to take the stage. Only two arrests were made, according to local police, and Spencer was stymied and humiliated.

The Takeaway: Still. White supremacist speech? There has to be a better way to describe that…

Tech

Research Shows That Companies That Do This One Thing Increase Worker Productivity by 25%

When we think productivity, we rarely think of workplace design as a major contributor or detractor, but compelling ongoing research shows that it plays a much larger role than initially thought. According to research published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, an empowered office environment can increase worker productivity on cognitive tasks by 25%, and possibly more.

Workspace design today is undergoing a major creative shift. We’ve gone from cubicles (people are productive in isolation) to open-plan spaces (collaboration leads to success) to what I believe is the next major step – integrated multi-function design which recognizes that people need multiple spaces based on their ongoing and changing needs within a business day.

Instead of looking out across rows of cubicles, today’s office worker needs a mix of team meeting rooms, open lounge-like areas, and private workspaces.

This is the “empowered office” – an office in which workers can choose their work environment. It’s a design concept that’s gaining traction – and not only because it creates more pleasant workspaces. It also has a powerful influence on worker productivity.

Great office design isn’t just for startups anymore

Major tech companies and Silicon Valley startups were among the first to embrace the concept of the empowered office. The New York Times recently highlighted Microsoft for its forward-thinking office designs, which incorporate everything from “isolation rooms,” or soundproof private spaces, to comfy central lounges with large tables and couches.

What’s really exciting, however, is that this way of thinking about space – specifically, about the ways that spaces influence behavior – is becoming more mainstream.  

“The great thing we are seeing, as far as transformative spaces in the workplace, is that these principles are being adopted across all disciplines – all fields and industries,” says Architectural Designer Jared Skinner, co-founder at MADE Design. “Companies are realizing that these best practices are bolstering not only creative collaboration – often seen as a soft skill, but productivity and results. It’s impacting the bottom line.”

Striking the perfect balance between privacy and collaboration

When it comes to progressive, transformative workspaces. some of the most successful companies have been the ones that aren’t afraid to experiment.

At Microsoft, for example, designers began testing open team workspaces in one specific area in one building. Through experimentation, they learned that the spaces they’d started with were too open – they were built for 16 to 24 software engineers, and those who worked in them found them to be too loud and distracting.

Working with that knowledge, Microsoft then adjusted those team spaces till they held just 8 to 12 engineers, which the company – and more importantly, the employees – believe to be ideal.

To achieve higher productivity, then, companies must embrace the need for creativity and flexibility. They must allow themselves to try out new configurations and change them as needed, adding in more private spaces, perhaps, or bringing in standing desks, or creating smaller collaborative work stations.  

Workspace design must embrace our digital, connected reality

Just as today’s consumers are constantly connected, so are today’s workers. What’s more, they’re mobile – work no longer has to be tied to a desk or an office.

When designing workspaces, it’s crucial to take these realities into account. But it takes more than an espresso machine or a pingpong table to make your workspace truly progressive, and thereby productive. If you’re not baking the principles of empowerment, connectedness, and mobility into your office design at its most basic level, then you can easily end up with a workspace that feels gimmicky and disingenuous.

That’s not to mention that you won’t be reaping the real productivity benefits of empowered office design.

Integrated design is a must for attracting talent – especially among Millennials and Gen Z

Millennials and members of Generation Z take connectivity for granted in their workspaces, so companies that want to truly stay ahead of the pack must go further.

We need to create designs that engage members of these generations. This isn’t the old model of engagement, either – Millennials and Gen Zers have a completely unique approach to engaging with spaces that’s based on more than just technology. To be successful, companies must keep these new sensibilities in mind as they design or renovate their workspaces.

This shift in workplace design is both responding to and influencing the new ways we’re defining work in the digital age. It’s an incredibly exciting time to be working at the intersection of design and branding, as we do at MADE.

To quote my co-founder, Jared Skinner, once more: “We’re living in an evolve-or-die day and age. Smart companies are being proactive and taking initiative to welcome this much-needed change.”

Tech

This Time It Matters: Why Apple Is Falling

Preface
Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) is dropping hard after its event to announce the new series of hardware, in particular the new iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X as well as the Apple Watch 3.

It’s Different This Time
Normally when Apple stock dives on lukewarm product reviews we stand firmly in our position that the stock market reaction is over blown. Our simple thesis for that response is to look at demand, which is hypnotically strong, every time. That is not the case this time.

A New Risk is Not Obvious But is Enormous
Apple announced a more complicated lineup of iPhones this time around. It introduced the iPhone 8 series which is an upgrade to the iPhone 7, and then it announced the highly anticipated iPhone X (pronounced iPhone Ten).

Then the company made the iPhone 8 available this month, but pushed delivery of iPhone X to early November, which pre-orders stating in late October. That has created a risk.

It turns out that Apple hyped the iPhone X so much, and poured so much new technology into it, that it has left the demand for iPhone 8 lackluster in Apple terms. Here’s what we mean.

If you go to the Apple Store, and try to purchase an iPhone 8, the wait time is essentially 1-3 days for the smaller memory version. Here is an image:

That is for the iPhone 8, in Los Angeles, on Verizon’s (NYSE:VZ) network. The other networks are essentially the same. A normal wait time for a new iPhone release is usually several weeks, let’s say 2-4 depending on where you are in the world.

There are also reports that in store lines are much smaller than before, with one report pinpointing Sydney Australia, where only 30 people were camped out for the new release. Reports from China are similar.

Here are links to two stories:

Turnout for iPhone 8 Launch in Australia “Bleak” as Customers Hold Out for Upcoming iPhone X
The iPhone 8 launch in Sydney saw “a bleak turnout,” reports Reuters, with fewer than 30 people lining up outside of the Sydney Apple Store on George Street. In past years, hundreds of people have lined up for new iPhones on release day.

Apple Falls After Analyst Report Indicates Weak iPhone 8 Demand
Consumers pre-ordered about 1.5 million handsets on Chinese retail website JD.com in the first three days, compared with about 3.5 million for the comparable period of iPhone 7 orders.

Tim Cook just said he “couldn’t be happier” with the iPhone release (and Apple Watch 3). While sales are lower than prior models, there is one reason, a big reason, that he may actually be telling the truth.

Is There a Plan?
One of the headlines that surfaced from the Apple Event was that the iPhone X was very expensive, starting at $ 999 and climbing to $ 1,200 based on the configuration.

It’s possible, maybe even likely, that Apple decided to release the iPhone 8 for less to make it appear that it was not forcing Apple loyalists to buy a far more expensive phone by offering a reduced priced new model (iPhone 8).

In fact, it does appear that even in the bearish analyst notes, each tends to comment on the fact that demand reduction for the iPhone 8 is simply a reflection of the outsized demand for the iPhone X.

If that’s true, then Apple will have an average selling price significantly higher than in prior times, and if demand is in fact to the point where Apple also sells more units, then that would bring a windfall of profits larger than any company has ever seen in one quarter. If that sound overly bullish, it’s just the choice of words — Apple already has the largest earnings ever in one quarter, so this would be a breaking of its own record — also known more simply as, “growth.”

Back to Risk
While there is a rather bullish narrative to wrap around this odd iPhone selection, there is also, in earnest this time, a reasonable bearish thesis.

Apple won’t be delivering its iPhone X until well into November, and if demand is very strong, it might not even be able to deliver before the holiday season in the United States. And while, certainly, if all of those sales simply occur later in the year (or early 2018), then that’s fine, but to consider that a foregone conclusion is a step we are not willing to take with blind faith.

Some consumers, perhaps many consumers, will not wait. And while Apple loyalists may stick around for a later date, the all-important “Android switchers” (those smartphone Android owners that switch to Apple) may not — and that is a real risk and worthy of a stock drop, until proven otherwise.

Apple’s market share in the United States is jumping as Android loses market share — an under reported but critical phenomenon. On January 11th, 2017, 9TO5Mac wrote iPhone market share grows 6.4% in USA, takes share from Android in most markets.

Apple gained 9.1% in the UK, mostly at the expense of Windows phones.

The iPhone grew its market share in Australia, France, Italy, Japan, Spain, the UK and USA, with Android seeing its own share drop in all of these countries bar Italy, where its growth was less than half that of iOS.

Those are Android switchers and Apple may have just put that group, or at least that trend, in serious jeopardy.

Now What?
We believe the iPhone X is going to be a knock-down drag-out mega hit, and the elevated price will make it yet an even larger success. But, the risk that Apple took, as of right now, is hurting the company both with iPhone 8 sales, and potentially, with Android switchers. And that is not a false narrative — it is accurate.

That risk means the stock should drop, and is dropping.

But, we’re not done yet. What we did not show you, and is easily missed unless you are really looking, is how hard Apple is focusing consumers on the iPhone X over the iPhone 8 — in our opinion.

I recorded a 45 second video arriving on the Apple Store and looking at iPhones. I have turned to video to allow you to make your own decision, as opposed to snapshots, which are too selective and an be used to weave any narrative the author likes.

When you watch this video (below), decide for yourself if you feel that Apple is purposefully pointing people to the iPhone X over the iPhone 8. Here we go:

That’s hardly headline grabbing footage, but we found it noteworthy.

Apple Watch 3
There have been some pretty poor reviews of the Apple Watch 3 surrounding its LTE connectivity and its battery life. This is one of those times where the reviews are meaningless. Demand is strong and that’s all that matters.

Here is a snapshot from the Apple Store for that product:

We see the Watch becoming a runaway success as people learn to use that wearable device as a standalone product — leaving the phone at home on runs, meetings, swims, hikes, and whatever other times such a convenience could be desired.

Conclusion
We maintain our Top Pick status on Apple, but have certainly tempered our bullishness with an undeniable new risk. It might work out very well, but, it might not, and that is a new risk to Apple stock.

The author is long shares of Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL).

Thanks for reading, friends.

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Disclosure: I am/we are long AAPL.

Tech

This Video Of A Guy Executing Fish With A Pistol Is Actually Good Because Lionfish Suck

I think every non-sociopath’s first instinct when seeing the title card of the video above—which lives up to its billing, as this is indeed a four-minute clip of a man equipped with a waterproof Glock who uses it to “fish” for lionfish—is one of dread. Oh no, you worry, accurately. Am I really about to watch someone brain scores of defenseless little fish with a goddamn handgun???

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I can’t get enough of this unofficial Stranger Things game


If you haven’t yet seen Netflix’s excellent new show, Stranger Things, I envy you. I watched the entire season in a single day and now wish I could turn back time to binge it afresh. To pay tribute to the series, indie game developer Infamous Quests created a lovely little point-and-click adventure that puts you in the shoes of Chief Hopper as he searches the forest for the missing Will Byers.   The free title is available for Mac, Windows and Linux. You can talk to officers officers Powell and Callahan and Byers’ teacher, Mr. Clarke, as you take in…

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This Very Big Machine Picks Very Small Berries

Harvesting the edible parts of any plant in a timely manner usually requires some very specialized tools. Poppy seeds get hoovered up by a giant old-timey lawnmower. Potatoes take a shovel escalator before ending up your plate. And currants—those tasty little berries that usually get made into jam—well, they get this wonky thing

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This Slack bot turns everyday conversation into a game of numbers


If you’ve been looking for new ways to liven up discussions with your team on Slack, this bot might be just what you need. Scorebot is a fun chatbot integration for Slack that lets you turn everyday conversation into a fierce competition of numbers. Once Scorebot is invited to a channel, it’ll let users assign positive or negative point values via emoji allowing you to score authors with the best or worst messages. Whenever someone reacts to a Slack message, Scorebot awards corresponding points to the author, keeping score in a leaderboard everyone in the channel can participate in. Additionally, the bot…

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