Epic Selfies and Hollywood Shots: 3DR’s New Solo Brings Consumers Into the New Era of Drones

Drones have been growing in popularity among professional filmmakers and photographers who would do just about anything to get the perfect shot, but a new drone has just been introduced to the market and is making it easier for even the newest of drone novices to capture stunning aerial shots on their own.

Thanks to 3D Robotics, the average consumer will finally be able to use his or her own drones to capture the type of shots that have long been reserved for those with years of experience piloting drones.

The $1,000 Solo drone offers a collection of helpful tools that make shooting with the drone easier while also providing new features that haven’t been available on drones in the past.

“We like to joke that we just turned Steven Spielberg into software,” Chris Anderson, the CEO of 3D Robotics, told NBC News.

That’s because the new features make it possible for anyone to capture the type of video that “a Hollywood director would approve of.”

“It has a simple controller, with a holder for your iPhone or iPad, which act as both the monitor for the drone and the remote control for the mounted GoPro camera,” Wired reports of the new drone.

It also features a panic button on the controller that will stop the drone in its tracks along with a flight simulator that will help new drone pilots learn how to control the flying device without risking serious damage to their $1,000 investment.

Other impressive features are the “follow me” mode that allows users to draw a path for the drone on the screen and the “Orbit” function that will cause the drone to create a perfect circular path around a selected object.

Solo is even making a way for drone users to capture stunning selfie videos.

With just one click, the GoPro camera will focus on the user as it flies away to create an epic selfie shot that would be much more difficult to get otherwise.

Perhaps the most innovative feature, however, will be the fact that the Solo drone is encouraging hackers to improve the software with their own tech skills.

Solo is being sold as an open platform, which will allow users to freely tinker with the hardware and software.

The Solo’s release comes at just the right time as more and more consumers are getting swept away in the drone wave.

In 2014, consumers spent $69 million on drones, and they are expected to spend more than $100 million in 2015 on the devices, according to the Consumer Electronics Association.

Eggplants Are Officially Too Naughty for Instagram’s Emoji Search

As Instagram rolls out its new emoji hashtag search feature, the social media giant is still trying to keep its users minds out the gutter by disabling a search for the eggplant emoji.

And we ALL know why.

The powers of Black Twitter are mysterious ones. The digital community’s hearty blend of activism and comedy has never failed to capture the attention of many and redefine the parameters of communication forever — especially when it comes to the way we all view the once innocent eggplant.

A rather naughty trend of men posting pictures on Twitter and Instagram wearing the type of pants or boxers that flaunted their “eggplants” forever banished the purple fruit into the land of naughty, sexual innuendo.

For that reason, Instagram users won’t be allowed to search for the eggplant hashtag with Instagram’s new emoji search feature.

Of course, it’s likely that other emojis that are now popular for their sexual innuendo will still give users their share of naughty photos — like the peach, banana, corn cob, tongue-out smiley and water squirt emojis.

Even the peeping eyeballs emoji will likely start giving users some interesting results.

But out of all of these emojis, the eggplant was certainly the most commonly used for solely sexually explicit purposes so it’s no surprise it’s the only one being blocked from the search.

Some users have expressed confusion, however, over the fact that a lot of seemingly violent emojis haven’t been blocked such as the creepy chef’s knife along with the bomb, gun and bloody syringe.

In all fairness, these emojis haven’t been linked to a lot of violent posts in the past and aren’t often used in a way that directly references their use as weapons.

Yes, the language of emoji is just weird like that.

Eggplants are vulgar, and bombs usually have nothing to do with actual explosives.

Won’t be long before courts are bringing in emoji experts to decode social media messages for evidence.

Tesla Becomes the Latest Major Player In the Race to Make Battery Operated Homes the New Norm

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk just announced that his company will be joining the great battery race that could eventually allow all homeowners to stop relying on public power lines.

On Thursday, Musk unveiled what he has deemed the “missing piece” in the revolution to create more battery-powered homes.

The new Tesla products are massive batteries that reportedly have enough power to support homes, businesses and even entire communities with the help of solar panels.

If the products are successful, it could truly mark an innovative leap forward in this particular realm of technology.

“Tesla batteries promise the ability to tap the sun’s energy, day or night,” the San Francisco Chronicle’s David R. Baker reports. “They could upend the way we produce and use electricity.”

It would ultimately mean fewer people would have to rely on utility companies, and the idea of widespread blackouts could finally become nothing more than a nightmare of the past.

“You don’t have to worry about being out of power if there’s an ice storm — you can actually go, if you want, completely off the grid,” Musk said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “People in a remote village or an island somewhere can take solar panels and the Powerwall and not have to worry about electricity lines.”

That’s the convenience of the new products, but Musk also pointed out the necessity of the batteries as well.

Widespread implementation of the products could drastically reduce the world’s carbon footprint and cut down on the use of fossil fuels.

“It’s the only path I know that can do this,” Musk told the crowd that gathered at his design studio in California. “It’s something we must do, and we can do, and we will do.”

At the gathering he focused on two different models of the battery — one that would be geared toward homes and another that would help bring power to companies.

The home battery, called the Powerwall, is currently priced at roughly $3,000 for the smallest model. Pricing for the business products wasn’t released.

It marks a huge milestone and an innovative move for the company that has been testing such products for years, but other giants have already taken up territory in the space.

Companies including Sungevity and SunEdison have similar product offerings, but it will be interesting to see how Tesla’s presence shakes up this relatively new market.

With electric cars and solar-powered homes on the rise, Enphase CEO Paul Nahi isn’t surprised to see the demand for such powerful batteries grow.

“There’s been tremendous pent-up demand for this,” Nahi said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “People understand the value.”

While the product has received a growth in demand, it isn’t an industry that’s easy to navigate with companies like A123 already being met with failure after taking its stab at the revolutionary batteries.

Only time will tell if Tesla is able to avoid making the same mistakes former high-profile failures in this market have made.

EBay’s Small Bump in Diversity Marks a Long Road Ahead in Tech

When pressure was placed on tech giants to diversify overwhelmingly white, male staffs, eBay promised to step up to the plate. That was back in 2014.

A year later, eBay’s diversity report reveals an increase in diversity, but it’s the type of incredibly underwhelming change that could serve as a serious warning sign in the world of tech.

After making a strong commitment to improve diversity within its company, eBay only managed to bump the number of female employees and Black employees up by 1 percentage point.

Some publications insist this is a sign that increasing diversity in tech will be a much longer process than anyone could have imagined.

“The modest change underscores that, even with a strong commitment from top management, it will take some time to change the makeup of Silicon Valley’s biggest tech companies, which are largely white and male,” USA Today reports.

But is that really the end of the story?

EBay couldn’t do it so nobody can? We should all expect to see diversity increase at such a painfully slow pace?

While nobody is expecting a diversity fairy to have Black employees randomly popping up in the boardrooms of major tech giants, a 1-percentage point increase is beyond underwhelming — it’s disappointing and suspicious.

It begs the question if tech giants are truly doing all they can to really make a difference in the makeup of their companies or are they throwing out hefty donations to random causes in hopes that the lack of diversity in their staffs is a problem that will correct itself over time.

Either way, eBay is hoping to continue its push toward diversity even as it officially breaks into two different companies — eBay and its payment division of PayPal.

“As eBay and PayPal separate into two independent companies during 2015, both plan to provide data updates for 2016 to give each of them a full year to collect diversity data,” spokesperson Abby Smith told USA Today. “It’s important though that each company has a full year of data. We will give each company some time to chart its course, so the next time we’ll report (diversity) findings is for 2016.”

Other tech giants like Google, Twitter, Apple and Facebook also fell under harsh scrutiny after their own reports pulled back the curtain on their own struggles with diversity with their staffs.

It’s unclear so far if the other tech giants have seen substantial improvements on diversity with their staffs.

8 Major Athletes Who Are Also Huge Blerds

tim duncan

Tim Duncan

The San Antonio Spurs star may be one of the biggest Blerds on the list with a professed love for the iconic nerd game Dungeons and Dragons. To take things up a notch, he is also a frequent visitor at Renaissance fairs.

Chris Bosh

Chris Bosh

The Miami Heat baller is a huge tech lover and advocates for everyone to learn how to code. Back in 2013, he even revealed that one of his dreams off the court would be to “teach kids about coding because the possible applications are fascinating, and it’s really quite simple when you think of it.”

Facebook Drops Another Microsoft Service, Proving It May Have Outgrown the Relationship

As Facebook continues to roll out new features and make slight adjustments to its social media behemoth, it’s clearly placing a higher priority on in-house services. While this is allowing Facebook to gain more independence, it’s also forcing it to sever ties with some of the tech giants that helped it become the unstoppable force it seems to be today.

Facebook users probably didn’t notice any major changes when they logged on to chat with their friends or scroll through cat photos, but the site had just ended its relationship with Microsoft’s Skype service.

It’s been roughly four years since Microsoft and Facebook announced that they would be partnering on bringing video calling to Facebook Messenger.

Throughout the time there never seemed to be any real signs that the relationship wasn’t going well and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg insisted that he and then-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer were “really aligned on this.”

Things have changed since then, and it all centers around a key question in the world of business — why pay someone else to do what you can do yourself?

Facebook unveiled video calling in Facebook Messenger via its iPhone and Android apps, a sign that Facebook will stick with in-house development for its new technology rather than relying on third parties like Microsoft.

That was all but confirmed after Facebook discreetly stopped using Skype technology for their video call service on desktops, according to Business Insider.

“This change was made because Skype-powered video calls required users to install a browser plug-in, while the technology Facebook whipped up works without one — important for call performance, video quality and letting Facebook more quickly make changes and upgrades to video chat,” Business Insider reported.

While Microsoft and Facebook have typically always had a positive relationship, this actually isn’t the first time Facebook severed ties with Microsoft.

Back in December, Facebook decided to stop relying on Microsoft’s Bing for Web search results on the platform.

It essentially seems like a tale of the baby bird outgrowing the need to remain in the mother’s nest. Microsoft invested $240 million into Facebook back in 2007 before it was the giant it is today.

Now Facebook has no need to rely on Microsoft for funding or services.

While the change doesn’t mean much for Facebook users, it was far from unnoticed for Skype users.

A plethora of features on Skype that incorporated integration with Facebook will no longer be available such as being able to message Facebook friends within the Skype app.

Jay Z Drops #TidalFacts to Defend New Streaming Service Against Premature Allegations of Failure

When Jay Z announced the March launch of his new music-streaming service Tidal, there was only one thing more evident than just how far-reaching the hip-hop mogul’s network is — everyone was waiting for Tidal to fail.

Before Tidal officially hit the market, bloggers and reporters were busy detailing what they believed would be an epic failure.

Industry professionals insisted that Jay Z’s latest endeavor would do nothing more than expose the “limit of his celebrity,” and reviews scoffed at the idea of paying for a music-streaming service when so many free options are already out on the market.

So when Tidal quickly dropped out of the top 700 downloads on the iTunes App store, the reactions varied from “I told you so” to accusations that Jay Z and Beyonce’s every move for the next year or so would be desperate attempts to save a so-called sinking ship.

Jay Z, and the Blerds team, believe that critics have the situation all wrong.

“Tidal is doing just fine,” he tweeted in response to all the backlash. “We have over 770,000 subs. We have been in business less than one month. #TidalFacts.”

As we previously reported, it seemed unusually early for Tidal to be considered a failure simply because it wasn’t keeping up with streaming services like Spotify and Pandora that have years of experience under their belt.

“The iTunes Store wasn’t built in a day,” Jay Z continued on Twitter. “It took Spotify 9 years to be successful…We are here for the long haul. Please give us a chance to grow & get better. #TidalFacts.”

He even accused other companies of signing huge checks just to put out smear campaigns against the new service.

“There are many big companies that are spending millions on a smear campaign,” he added. “We are not anti-anyone, we are pro-artist & fan. #TidalFacts.”

In addition to asking people for more time before judging the new app, he also reminded everyone that when it comes to comparing the service, Spotify and Pandora still aren’t the best matches.

The service isn’t just about streaming music for a quick workout or a long road trip. It’s about giving fans access to exclusive content that builds on their relationship with the artists they love and adore.

“We made Tidal for fans,” he added. “We have more than just music. We have video, exclusive concerts, tickets for events early, live sports….Tidal is where artists can give their fans more without the middlemen. #TidalFacts.”

He continued to explain the difference between Tidal and other streaming services and emphasizing the principle at the very core of the app.

Tidal’s mission is to keep the integrity of the music and stop slashing the amount of revenue artists can make through streaming as it continues its steady incline to become the most popular method used for listening to music.

“Our actions will speak louder than words,” another tweet read. “We made Tidal to bring people the best experiences and to help artists give that to their fans over and over again. We are human (even Daft Punk ha). We aren’t perfect—but we are determined. #TidalFacts.”

Tidal is certainly going to have a tough road ahead as it is bringing a relatively new concept to the marketplace with a streaming service that actually does a lot more than just play music.

When it comes down to it, however, the service is not necessarily competing for numbers.

The number of people who just want to listen to certain music easily outnumbers the number of people who not only want to listen to an artist but also want to see their behind-the-scenes footage, exclusive interviews and more.

As Jay Z said, Tidal is a service specifically for the dedicated fans.

Tidal very well could turn out to be a tremendous failure for the hip-hop mogul, but it only seems right that the service is at least given a chance to grow and evolve before it’s bashed as a “flop” after only a few weeks of being in existence.


Has This Tech Lover Unlocked the Future of Graphic Novel Reading?

For so many graphic novels, their run in the world of print is great, but the true success takes off once the story is adapted for television. It’s because in today’s digitally oversaturated world, fewer people are talking about imagination when they say they want their novels to jump off the page.

They literally want someone to get the story’s content and convert it to a form that brings action-packed scenes to life.

Well, former IBM employee and graphic novel lover Erica Austin has launched a solution that could lay the blueprint for the future of graphic novel reading.

Many readers still enjoy the feeling of scanning from panel to panel to keep up with their favorite characters but also wouldn’t mind seeing the content of the pages take on a life of their own from time to time.

That’s where Austin’s new app comes in.

Against the grain“Against the Grain” allows for a more interactive graphic novel experience that integrates e-book versions of Austin’s self-created novels with short videos that highlight some of the novel’s more action-packed scenes.

So after reading through a few pages of content, the reader may stumble upon a video that gives an animated portrayal of an encounter with a villain or a perilous adventure.

“Against the Grain,” which is also the name of the novel series, is certainly a very early approach to such a concept and one would be lying if he or she said the animations couldn’t use a little bit of work.

Overall, however, the videos along with the digital panels that take readers through a more traditional reading experience are executed very well.

“Boasting a clean, crisp interface, bursting with amazing artwork and incredible two-dimensional and three-dimensional animations, Austin’s comics transcend the standard read,” a press release explains. “The app also allows users to preview new issues before purchasing and watch animated trailers so they know exactly what they are going to get.”

The app currently boasts two issues of Austin’s novel, which brings the content to about 200 illustrated pages and about six different animations.

The new app is certainly worth checking out, but perhaps the real test of its excellence will be explored if other graphic novel creators try to mimic her more interactive approach.

Kanye West Backs Away From Tidal as the App Seems to Flop, But Tidal’s Numbers May Say More About Consumers Than the Service

Jay Z and his star-studded team of Tidal co-owners took over the Web as they announced the release of the premium music service back in March, but it seems like all the Internet hype isn’t converting to actual sales.

Now that Tidal has already dropped out of the top 700 for all iTunes downloads, there are two questions around the app that deserve some serious pondering: Is co-owner Kanye West backing away from the app now that he sees it won’t be an instant hit and what does Tidal’s early “flop” say about the very same people who constantly bash artists who are dedicating much of their time to corporate deals and sponsorships rather than more new music?

The headlines have swept the Web, and now everybody knows what many had guessed all along — getting consumers to hand over roughly $10 a month for a streaming service when free options are available is no easy task. It’s not an easy sale and it won’t be an instant success even if Rihanna, Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, Kanye West, DeadMau5 and J.Cole are among the stars backing the project.

That fact, in all honesty, is not a surprise.

What is a little more surprising, however, is that Jay Z’s close pal West seems to be backing out of the project now that it turns out it won’t have such an easy rise to greatness (if it has one at all).

Prior to the launch, the “New Slaves” rapper was busy advocating for the app on social media.

He posted pictures of the press conference on his Twitter and encouraged his followers to turn their profile pictures blue in support of Tidal.

Shortly after the app dropped from the No. 4 spot on the iOS music app chart to a disappointing 51, West has now deleted his Tidal-promoting tweets.

He has yet to explain why he deleted the posts on social media but there’s also a good chance that he never will.

But perhaps the bigger issue at hand has nothing to do with West at all.

Is Tidal’s flop a sign of hypocrisy among the vast collection of music lovers who long protested how little artists got paid and slammed the deteriorating value being placed on music in today’s digital age?

Only a few weeks after fans and major publications sounded off about Kendrick Lamar starring in a Reebok commercial, insisting he was now a “sell-out,” they have revealed exactly why artists will never be able to turn a blind eye to corporate checks and superficial sponsorships.

Companies like Reebok are willing to pay the bill. Consumers are not.

Album sales are plummeting across all genres and while streaming is picking up steam, only the free services are the ones that are flourishing.

Tidal’s premium price comes with a promise that artists will no longer be given fractions of a dollar for all their music that is streamed by consumers who didn’t want to go out and buy a CD or download the album from a reputable online source that actually counts toward the artists’ profits.

It also boasts better sound quality, another feature that consumers just don’t seem to be too concerned about.

There seems to be a misconstrued idea that there can be a music industry where artists are not wrapped up in commercial and corporate ties while consumers are still able to binge on their music for absolutely no cost at all.

Because, like, music should totally be free for everybody, dude.

Consumers have every right to spend their money how they’d like. If paying $10 a month for a streaming service isn’t worth it, that’s perfectly understandable.

Where consumers should draw the line, however, is slamming an artist as disingenuous when he or she seeks other sources of revenue such as sponsorships and commercial endorsements after so-called music lovers made it clear that they don’t want their listening pleasures to come with a price tag.

Tidal’s flop represents the market’s desire, or lack thereof, for artists to get a fairer share for their music.

If that’s the case, Pepsi, Reebok, Beats, Mountain Dew and other major brands have every right to step in and write the check that nobody else was willing to pen for the artists they listen to on a daily basis.

Not to mention the fact that it may be too early to officially deem Tidal a flop anyway.

The app was never predicted to shine in the realm of snatching Spotify users who just want endless access to a great gym playlist.

Tidal’s star-studded team is what gave it promise. The potential for Tidal-exclusive content in the future may be what helps the app take on new life.

After all, rumors are already swirling that Jay Z and Beyonce are planning a joint album that will be available exclusively on Tidal and Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money” is already a Tidal exclusive that’s not available on Spotify or Beats.

A host of other content from the A-list co-owners, like Daft Punk’s Electroma film and behind-the-scenes video of Alicia Keys’ Set the World on Fire Tour at Madison Square Garden, are also only accessible on Tidal.

The app clearly has some serious obstacles to navigate, but it still seems a bit too early to determine if the app is truly going to crash and burn.

New App Helps Social Media Users Keep Their Online Profiles ‘Clear’ of Offensive Posts

Ethan Czahor may have lost his dream job due to the resurfacing of some offensive tweets, but now the well-known techie has launched an app to help other people clean up their social media before it lands them in a compromising position.

Czahor decided to resign from his position as Jeb Bush’s chief technology officer back in February when a series of tweets referring to women as “sluts” and accusing gay men of undressing him “with their eyes” in the gym resurfaced on the Web.

Bush’s team stood behind Czahor, but he ultimately still decided to step down and embark on a journey to protect social media users from the nightmares of their digital past with a new app called Clear.

The app uses an algorithm to scan through users’ social media posts and dig up all the posts that could be offensive and get them in trouble with employers and other professionals.

The app will present users with a complete list of tweets that contain racial slurs or other types of offensive language and give them the option to erase the post forever — if screenshots aren’t already floating around on the web.

Czahor said after his own tweets ended in a career tragedy, he received messages from a lot of people who were afraid the same thing would happen to them.

“Right after what I went through I received a lot of messages from people worried what happened to me would happen to them,” he told BuzzFeed.

Now a “Clear score” can help people figure out if they are truly at risk or not.

It sounds like a handy app, but it’s also come with a lot of backlash considering the fact that it is essentially helping people hide what could be sexist, racist or otherwise incredibly offensive social media posts.

“How about you just don’t use offensive language,” one Twitter user wrote as a response to the app.

That’s how many people felt about the new app, but in all fairness there are cases where the app could truly help people who don’t deserve to be fired or miss out on job opportunities.

In today’s spectrum of political correctness and self-appointed offensive police filling social media, there actually are instances where social media messages are taken out of context and cost people their jobs.

In some cases, being “offensive” has been redefined as expressing a different opinion that doesn’t fit the status quo, which sometimes seems to be in direct opposition of America’s so-called loyalty to the freedom of speech.

While it’s easy to see that Czahor’s own tweets stepped well beyond that boundary, the Clear app could still be a handy tool for those who maybe haven’t learned the correct etiquette for social media postings.

More often than not, those bits intended to be comedic relief can land people in serious trouble down the road or the daring decision to question a widespread belief could leave people being labeled as intolerant or ignorant. Clear helps flag down such messages so users can make the final call on whether or not they would feel comfortable defending their social media posts in the public eye.

Either way, people will have to wait quite some time to test the app out as it has already garnered a waiting list well beyond 10,000 people.

No word out yet on how long it will take for those on the waiting list to finally get their Clear report.