Tuesday December 3, 2013
Facebook is on a mission to become a premiere source for high-quality news. Yesterday the company announced some interesting tweaks to its News Feed, suggesting that the world's largest social networking site is desperately trying to figure out a way to better compete with Twitter as a breaking news platform.
"Our surveys show that on average people prefer links to high quality articles about current events, their favorite sports team or shared interests, to the latest meme," writes Engineering Manager Varun Kacholia and Software Engineer Minwen Ji. "Starting soon, we'll be doing a better job of distinguishing between a high quality article on a website versus a meme photo hosted somewhere other than Facebook when people click on those stories on mobile."
Facebook explained that you can expect to start seeing more news articles in your News Feed related, and less meme photos that have been hosted somewhere other than on Facebook. Friends of yours who click on popular articles will influence the types of stories that will show up in your News Feed on both desktop and mobile versions, but Facebook says you might notice it slightly more on mobile.
In addition to more newsworthy links, Facebook will start recommending up to three more related stories under the occasional shared news link. And as they continue to attract more comments over the course of the day, stories you've seen already may resurface in your News Feed so that you're less likely to miss out on a popular conversation.
Photo © Getty Images
Monday December 2, 2013
Everyone has been yammering on and on about Amazon's bold new plan to launch delivery drones in the next few years.
CEO Jeff Bezos revealed Amazon Prime Air to the world during a segment that aired yesterday on 60 Minutes, and after word got out about it, a big chunk of the web seemed pretty convinced that it either had to be fake, or just a weird marketing ploy for Cyber Monday. Or both.
For what might seem like something straight out of a science fiction movie, Amazon's flying delivery robot service is actually very real, and according to Bezos, it's definitely going to happen. Check it out if you haven't already, and make sure you watch the video.
At first thought, a lot of obvious questions come to mind. What if the drones crash into people, trees, cars or each other? What about high winds and bad weather? What if people start shooting them out of the sky like ducks and running away with all that free stuff? So many questions.
Despite the amount of press and social buzz that this whole idea has been stirring up since yesterday evening, delivery drones actually aren't even a new thing, believe it or not. In fact, they totally exist already. You just didn't know about them. Take a look at this Hacker News thread that includes a list of links about how to get pizza, beer, cake and tacos delivered by drones.
So, was it really just a clever Amazon PR stunt all too perfectly timed with the day before Cyber Monday? Who knows for sure, but that's certainly what a lot of the skeptics are saying.
Check out what our About.com Expert to Logistics had to say about it, and feel free to enjoy some of the hilarious parodies that started popping up online nearly as soon as the announcement was aired.
Photo © Amazon.com, Inc.
Thursday November 28, 2013
Retailers have been hyping up their Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals for what seems like at least a good month now. Just do a simple Google search for "Black Friday gift guide" and you'll get something like 460,000,000 results. Seriously.
Are you excited? Are you frightened? Have you set up camp in front of Best Buy already?
Holiday consumerism is about to get more intense than ever, both online and offline this year. And whether you decide to brave the overcrowded malls and big box stores or opt for spending the day with your laptop and credit card in hand, you can bet that the amount of spending that will take place over the course of the next few days is going to be absolutely nuts.
Whatever your plans may be, About.com can help you out. Have a look at what some of our experts have recommended for the massive seasonal retail discount palooza that's about to go down:
Photo © Getty Images
Wednesday November 27, 2013
It's the season of giving, and now you have one more option from PayPal to consider taking advantage of for the holidays.
PayPal users can now take any prepaid gift card from Visa, American Express, MasterCard, or Discover and spend it anywhere online that supports the PayPal Checkout platform.
In the announcement blog post, PayPal pointed out that a lot of people who try to use prepaid cards online tend to run into problems -- like when a card has no billing address. Of course, now that prepaid cards are PayPal-friendly, you shouldn't run into any such problems as long as the merchant site you're shopping on lets you pay through PayPal.
Thoughtful gift straight from the heart? Maybe not. But hey, it's still an option that at least will take the headache out of needing to call the card provider when it doesn't work.
Happy Thanksgiving / Hanukkah / Black Friday / Cyber Monday to all who are celebrating this weekend!
Photo © John Lamb / Getty Images