04/24/17 11:29am

Just five minutes to smoothie magic with Greenblender.

Last week the internet enjoyed a rare moment of harmony as it gathered together to mock Juicero, the high tech juice company that raised $120 million to hawk $400, wifi-enabled juicers. A meticulously reported Bloomberg story and accompanying video demonstrated that despite its boasts of aircraft-grade aluminum and four tons of pressing power, it was possible to squeeze Juicero juice packs–which you cannot buy without first purchasing the juicer, called The Press–by hand, to pretty much the same effect.

A tech writer friend and I have had an ongoing joke about Juicero since this gushing New York Times profile of founder Doug Evans came out last year, the punchline being, if you’re a certain type of white guy (read: unconventional, but rich, with a charming if slightly sociopathic personality), you can get Silicon Valley dollars like you have an ATM card, no matter how dumb your idea is.

But here’s the rub–I like drinking juice or smoothies for breakfast, and most juicers really are a pain to clean and I get annoyed by my own lack of creativity when it comes to my smoothie game. Surely there must be some kind of juice interruption that actually delivers, without having to purchase a $400 lie.

There is and the company started in Brooklyn, of course.

Greenblender, to use a tired, but useful formulation, is Blue Apron for smoothies. For $49 a week (less if you commit to several months at a time) you get recipes and ingredients for five different smoothies, two servings of each. You just pop them in a blender and voila, breakfast in about five minutes. Technically these are smoothies–no pulp or fiber is removed, it’s all blended all in there, but they’re much more fruit and vegetable foward than your standard smoothie, which is really a milkshake in disguise. Think of Greenblender concoctions more like super juice. You could not squeeze these ingredients with your bare hands and get a drink from your efforts. (more…)

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04/04/17 9:30am

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A few weeks ago a weird thing happened. I had powered my laptop all the way down and when I went to log in I couldn’t. It kept telling me my password was wrong. I was reasonably certain I was remembering and typing it correctly, but no matter how many times I tried I couldn’t get in. So, I logged in as a guest and started the Apple ID reset process and went on with my day. Except a few hours later my phone let me know through the double authentication process that someone was trying to log in to my account in Singapore. Yeah.

Then I read this NYMag story about how a hacker group that calls itself the Turkish Crime Family has demanded $100,000 in iTunes credits from Apple, threatening to randomly wipe the iPhones of users whose iCloud passwords and credentials have been compromised. I know, if this was the plot of an episode of the brief and preposterous run of CSI: Cyber, it would be laughed out of the writers room. The Turkish Crime Family? $100,000? In iTunes credits?

The truth is though, life is usually weirder than the last gasp of a once-great procedural empire that can’t even make it work with the dream team of Patricia Arquette, Ted Danson and James Vanderbeek. Maybe some criminals are just simple folks who can steal iCloud passwords, but lack the piracy skills to steal things one buys on iTunes. Or maybe iTunes credit is like catnip on the deep web. We may never know.

In any case, I got my personal cyber security reasonably locked down in the course of a few hours, mostly because I just can’t even cope with the idea of how annoying and time consuming it would be to fix. Here are my suggestions for a sort of online security spring cleaning. (more…)

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03/09/17 11:37am

Moovn Apps

On January 28, the hashtag #DeleteUber started trending with a vengeance. Following the announcement of the Trump administration’s executive order declaring a travel ban on citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, NYC taxi drivers went on strike, declaring a one-hour work stoppage at JFK  in protest of the ban. At the same time, Uber announced that it would suspend surge pricing at the airport, which many saw not as a consumer service, but as an attempt to profit from the strike, and from the ban. For many already uneasy users it was the last straw for a company whose CEO was then still on Trump’s Business Council.

That same weekend Lyft, Uber’s rival in the ride-sharing game, announced that they would make a $1 million donation to the ACLU, and got a boatload of new customers out of the controversy. However, Lyft still counts Carl Icahn and Peter Thiel, two of Trump’s biggest richest supporters, as members of their board. Both companies have grappled with reputations for treating drivers poorly and for bro-centric work cultures.

Socially-conscious riders eager for an alternative have started turning to Moovn, a new ride-sharing app that prides itself on a no-surge-pricing policy for customers, as well as better wages and stronger protections for drivers. It’s also a tech business with a black founder, which is important to note as the disruption game is notoriously white.

“We put the driver first,” said Godwin Gabriel, founder and CEO, in a phone interview. “As long as we do, he or she will go the extra mile for the customer…the driver is our biggest stakeholder.” He sees other platforms as “pushing the driver to the curb.”

Gabriel went to say, “Drivers are getting paid well on our platform. We only take a 10-15 commission…we are looking at going even lower. At any time, the driver maintains 85-90% of the fare, not including tip. You hear all of these issues about drivers being disenfranchised, marginalized. They don’t earn enough on other platforms.” For lack of a better word, Gabriel explained, many drivers told him it was like “modern day slavery.” (more…)

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06/23/16 12:46pm

iphone-4-broken-screen-repair-copyHow many new iPhones have you bought because your old one was too expensive to repair? How much are you paying each month in phone insurance because you’re afraid of it happening again. If the answer is “too many,” or “too much,” things may be about to change, at least in New York State.  

A surprisingly wide coalition including upstate farmers, the Natural Resources Defense Council, techies and mechanics across the state are lobbying the New York State Assembly and Senate for a floor vote for bill, S3998 in the State Senate and A6068 in the State Assembly that would require manufacturers of electronic products from cell phones and computers to refrigerators and thermostats, to release their manuals and schematics to the general public so consumers can take repair into their own hands. It sounds harmless enough–what’s subversive about a repair manual, aside from the migraine the non-handy among enough will endure trying to parse it?

Well, according to Gay Gordon-Byrne, Executive Director of Right to Repair, the answer is an all too familiar song of corporate greed. (more…)

Partner Post
03/23/16 12:58pm
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The Made in NY Media Center by IFP is accepting applications for their Creative >> Founder Lab, an eight- week intensive intended to give creative entrepreneurs the tools they need to transform a creative concept into a prosperous venture.

 

Selected applicants will have opportunities for group-study sessions, access to office hours with our Experts-in-Residence, and invitations to happy hours and other networking events.

 

Apply here before the May 23 deadline!
04/21/15 9:00am

Whether it’s flows (work or otherwise) finances or food, we all have areas in our lives we’d like to make easier to execute. Few of us can afford to hire the village of personal chefs, trainers, advisors and assistants it would take to unburden ourselves of these activities entirely, but fortunately, there are plenty of apps out there aimed at making our lives work smarter not harder. Recently, we’ve been sharing some of our favorite smartphone apps amongst ourselves, testing their abilities to up our productivity levels and take care of things we’d never get around to doing ourselves. Here are the four apps we’re finding most helpful at the moment, all cheaper than an Apple Watch.

acorns

Turn your spare change into incremental financial investments with the new app Acorns. Photo: Acorns

Acorns
I’m not entirely proud of the fact that it’s taken me until the cusp of my 30s to start considering financial investments, but then I read this CNN piece highlighting the fact that the vast majority of people my age—93%—share my hesitations about the stock market. Coming of age in the financial upheaval of the 2008 recession has had the residual effect of making most millennials incredulous about financial investing. Fortunately for us, the designers of the new app Acorns have come up with a pretty foolproof way to ease into it. The app allows you to take the spare change from electronic/debit card purchases and invest it into a diversified stock portfolio picked for you by a Nobel-Prize-winning economist based on your spending habits, annual income and long-term goals. It’s an easy way to dip your toe into an investment pool without needing to throw down serious cash with a financial advisor in order to do so. I’ve been using Acorns since February and will say it’s super simple, secure and so user friendly that it’s alleviated a lot of the fear I had about financial investment. Acorns is free and available through iTunes, Amazon Apps and Google Play.—Jordan Galloway


Caviar
Brooklyn foodies tend to lead two different lives—when we’re out on the town, we dine on some of the most acclaimed, cutting-edge New American fare in the world. But when we’re at home on the couch, it’s usually greasy Chinese food or standard pizza. Caviar combines the best of both worlds: high-end, cool Brooklyn cooking and…well—laziness. Download the app and choose from a curated selection of spots like Talde, Franny’s, Blue Ribbon Brooklyn, Prospect and No. 7—many of which don’t otherwise deliver. There’s a $4.99 delivery charge, but come on, that’s worth it when you can even get a milkshake or a pint from OddFellows ice cream delivered without taking off your pajamas. Caviar is free and available through iTunes and Google Play.—Brendan Spiegel (more…)

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01/13/15 11:00am
You can remove this guy from your daily life with a digital declutter.

You can remove this guy from your daily life with a digital declutter.

In December I was contemplating buying a new laptop. My four-year-old MacBook Pro was giving me the rainbow pinwheel constantly and my workflow had slowed to crawl.

Unprepared to drop $1000 for a new computer, I consulted several tech-nerd friends who suggested clearing as much as possible off the hard drive, installing more RAM and running the built-in disk repair utility. In the process of doing all that I came to the conclusion that rather than winnowing down all the junk I’d just start fresh, by erasing the hard drive and returning the laptop to its factory settings. And I can’t believe how happy I am with the decision to do so. (more…)

11/25/14 8:00am
This doesn't have to be your problem.

This doesn’t have to be your problem.

Yes, Thanksgiving week is the busiest, most hassle-filled travel time of the year. It’s just part of the holidays, like that cranberry jello salad your aunt always makes, or the tense mood that strikes the table whenever your cousin’s awful boyfriend opens his mouth. For New Yorkers, getting to the airport is either expensive, time consuming, or both, even in the best of traffic conditions. All three of our major airports, JFK, LaGuardia and Newark rank at the very bottom of Bloomberg Businessweek’s Airport Frustration Index, with LaGuardia receiving the lowest marks of any airport in the country in almost every category.

We can’t magically get you to your gate without delays or irritation, but we do have a few suggestions for saving time and money on the way to the airport, including a ridesharing app that could be your Uber replacement, and some public transportation tricks. (more…)

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10/24/14 10:43am
Photo:

Eskayel and Casetify teamed up for a line of iPhone cases with fresh and interesting patterns. Photo: Eskayel

According to The The New York Times, 39 million iPhone 6s have been sold so far, and while I know plenty of iPhonephiles eagerly awaiting their new phone (or who have one in hand after waiting in line at the Apple Store) no one I know has bought a protective case. The problem with iPhone cases is that they always seem to transform a sleek and elegant object into a clunky piece of plastic and silicone. There are cases out there though, that are as carefully designed as your phone, and it turns out that some of the best options come from Brooklyn. Here’s what I turned up while searching for the perfect case. (more…)

01/10/14 2:58pm

Two years ago, I made (and kept!) a New Year’s resolution to get in shape. The hard part, of course, was getting to the gym, but I managed to make it. For a week I went about randomly lifting heavy stuff and putting it back down like I always had. At some point, however, I sat next to a very large mammal lifting an obscene amount of weight over his head. After his set, he put down his dumbbells and grabbed his phone. I asked him what app he was using. He convinced me, through a series enthusiastic grunts, to try Fitness Buddy (Android , iPhone), so I spent $1.99 to see if it might provide some structure for my workouts.

I had no desire to look like the large mammal who’d suggested Fitness Buddy, but I recognized that he seemed to know what he was doing. I doubt he learned everything he knew from Fitness Buddy, but the app is so comprehensive that it’s totes possible. (more…)