Category Archives: Information

GameStop Launches NFT Marketplace After Laying Off Workers

GameStop fired its top executive and other layoffs at Game Informer. An article on Game Informer, posted on July 8, 2022, stated that GameStop “which is in the process of pivoting its business around crypto” fired one of its top executives and laid off a number of Game Informer staff.

In a filing with the US government, GameStop said it “terminated” CFO Michael Recupero effective immediately. Recupero started as GameStop CFO just about a year ago in June 2021.

In its filing, GameStop said Recupero was fired “without cause,” but the company did not share any further details around the nature of circumstances of his existence. Recupero is not getting a severance payment beyond what was in his initial offer letter but he is entitled to certain pay, rights, and benefits not disclosed in the filing.

CNN reported, from a GameStop memo it obtained, CEO Matt Furlong wrote: “After making more than 600 corporate hires in 2021, and the first half of 2022, we have a stronger understanding of our transformation needs.” He continued, “This has positioned us to right-size headcount across several corporate departments”.

Kotaku reported: While confirmation of the layoffs began pouring in on LinkedIn, it’s not yet clear how many are affected. The layoffs appear to be focused on GameStop’s Grapevine, Texas, headquarters, but all appear to include some staff at Game Informer, the decades-old gaming magazine acquired by the retailer when it bought Funcoland back in 2000.

Wikipedia says that GameStop started with Babbages, a Texas company that was founded in 1984. in October of 1999, Barnes & Noble Booksellers purchased Babbage’s Etc. for $215 million. In May of 2000, Barnes & Noble acquired Funco (which may explain why there were so many Funco Pops in the Barnes & Noble stores). In addition, Barnes & Noble acquired Game Informer, a video game magazine that was first published in 1991. Funco was renamed GameStop, Inc., in December of 2000.

The New York Times reported (in October of 2004) that Barnes & Noble decided “to spin off its majority stake in GameStop, a retailer of video games.”

GameStop has launched an NFT Marketplace, the long-awaited debut of its online marketplace for non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, in a bid to reinvent its business and cash in on consumer adoption of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. CNBC reported on July 11, 2022.

According to CNBC, GameStop’s platform, which is now open to the public for beta testing, allows users to connect their own digital asset wallets, including the recently launched GameStop Wallet, the company said in a press release. They will then be able to buy, sell, and trade NFTs of virtual goods. Over time, the marketplace will expand to offer other features such as Web3 gaming, GameStop said.

CNBC noted: The company is trying to win over investors who may have written GameStop off as a legacy retailer with too many store fronts in outdated shopping malls. Now, the company is “tapping into buzzy areas like NFTs for growth”.

Personally, I don’t see GameStop becoming the next big thing for those who want to not only collect NFTs, but also want to stick around for some NFT-connected games. I don’t think GameStop will be able to compete with OpenSea.

Meta Launches Sphere To Verify Citations On Wikipedia

Meta announced that, building on Meta’s AI research and advancements, they have developed the first model capable of automatically scanning hundreds of thousands of citations at once to check whether they truly support the corresponding claims. Volunteers double-check Wikipedia’s footnotes, but, as the site continues to grow, it’s challenging to keep pace with more than the 17,000 new articles added each month.

Automated tools can help identify gibberish or statements that lack citations, but helping human editors determine whether a source actually backs up a claim is a much more complex task – one that requires an AI system’s depth of understanding and analysis.

Meta AI states that they have already begin to develop the building blocks of the next generation of citation tools. Last year, they released an AI model that integrates information retrieval and verification, and they are training neural networks to learn more nuanced representations of language so they can pinpoint relevant source material in an internet-size pool of data.

The new dataset of 134 million web pages serves as the system’s main components: Sphere, a web-scale retrieval library that is open sourced here.

TechCrunch reported that Sphere’s first user is Wikipedia, which is using it to automatically scan entries and identify when citations and entries are strongly or weakly supported.

According to TechCrunch, the Wikimedia Foundation, which oversees Wikipedia, has been weighing up new ways of leveraging all that data. Last month, it announced an Enterprise tier and its first two commercial customers, Google and the Internet Archive, which use Wikipedia-based data for their own business-generating interests and will now have more formal service agreements wrapped around that.

TechCrunch also stated: On Meta’s part, the company continues to be weighed down by a bad public perception, stemming in part from accusations that it enables misinformation and toxic ideas to gain ground freely. …It’s a mess for sure, but in that regard launching something like Sphere feels like a PR exercise for Meta, as much as a potentially useful tool. According to TechCrunch, if it works, it shows that there are people in the organization trying to work in good faith.

I find it interesting that Meta posted a “NOTE” at the end of its announcement. “Wikipedia and Meta are not partnering on this project. The project is still in the research phase and not being used to automatically update any content on Wikipedia.”

The thing about AI doing the work that previously as done by humans is that an AI lacks discernment. A human can easily spot when a cited source turns out to be misleading (or has a dead link). Personally, I’m not comfortable allowing an AI to make decisions about whether or not a link to a cited source is more or less valid than another on the same topic. I’m unconvinced that an AI has the nuance to discern why one source is better than another.

WhatsApp Rolls Out More Emoji

Ahead of World Emoji Day (Sunday, July 17) Emojipedia reported that WhatsApp is getting more emojii. World Emoji Day is the annual celebration of emoji use across the world. Created and hosted by Emojipedia, the event is in its ninth year and is celebrated on July 17th each year.

In addition, Emojipedia also stated that Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has announced that WhatsApp will be updating its emoji reactions feature for both iOS and Android devices. This new update will allow users to react to messages from any emoji included within their emoji keyboards.

According to Emojipedia, the update is now rolling out across select global regions and is expected to reach all of WhatsApp’s global userbase in the coming weeks and months.

After a WhatsApp user downloads the emoji update, they can press and hold on a message within WhatsApp to make the reaction menu appear as before – but now it will feature a + option, which allows users to dive into the 3,600+ currently available emojis, including all skin tone modifier options.

Emojipedia also noted that the expansion of the WhatsApp reaction feature mirrors a feature currently available for Instagram users in select regions, which allows any emoji from the emoji keyboard to be used as a reaction to a direct message on the platform. (Meta is the parent company of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram.)

TechCrunch reported that WhatsApp first announced its emoji reaction feature in April, but started to make it available to everyone in May. At that time, you could only react via six available emoji: thumbs up, heart, joined hands, tears of joy, mouth open and crying face.

Engadget reported that the WhatsApp emoji update put it on par with Messenger in terms of emoji reactions, and works the same way on mobile. According to Engadget, Telegram recently unveiled expanded emoji and animated reactions as well, but you have to subscribe to Telegram’s new $5/month premium service to access them.

Personally, I don’t tend to use a whole lot of emoji. On Twitter, I am most likely going to click the heart-shaped “like” rather than post an emoji in response to someone else’s tweet. The Mastodon instance I’m on has tons of user-created emoji, and I use several of them to express a mood. If I’m using Instagram, I typically click the “heart” button on content that amuses me.

It is a good idea to understand how a specific emoji is interpreted by other people. For example, I’ve seen screenshots of the “Face With Tears” emoji being used on obituaries that were posted in social media. Apparently, some people think it is expressing tears of grief, and are unaware that others will see that as tears of laughter.

U.S. Department Of Treasury Made Framework For Digital Assets

The U.S. Department of Treasury announced they have outlined an interagency approach to address the risks and harness the potential benefits of digital assets and their underlying technology, including through international engagement to adapt, update, and enhance the adoption of global principles and standards for how digital assets are used and transacted.

This was done in response to an executive order from President Biden titled: “Ensuring Responsible Development of Digital Assets”. In short, the Department of Treasury has developed regulations regarding digital assets.

Technology-driven financial innovation is frequently cross-border and can impact households, businesses, and governments across the world. International cooperation among public authorities, the private sector, and other stakeholders is therefore critical to maintaining high regulatory standards and a level playing field, expanding access to safe and affordable financial services, and reducing the cost of domestic and cross-border payments, including through the continued monetization of public payment systems…

Objectives Of The Framework include:

Protect consumers, investors, and businesses in the United States and globally by promoting technology and regulatory standards that reflect U.S. values;

Protect U.S. and global financial stability and mitigate systemic risk;

Mitigate illicit finance and national security risks posed by misuse of digital assets and counter and response to efforts by foreign adversaries to drive standards and promote their protocols;

Reinforce U.S. leadership in the global financial system and in technological and economic competitiveness, including through the responsible development of payment innovations and digital assets by advancing technology and regulatory standards that align with U.S. values;

Promote access to safe and affordable financial services; and

Support technological advances that promote responsive development and use of digital assets by advancing research and relationships that increase shared learning.

What does this all mean? For further information, you can read the Fact Sheet on the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s website. It’s a bit long, and not very easy to understand.

CoinDesk reported that the U.S. Treasury Department’s fact sheet states the framework’s policy objectives also include reducing the potential use of crypto for illicit finance promoting access to financial services, supporting technological advancement and “reinforc[ing] U.S. leadership in the global finance system.”

The Register reported that the framework suggests wide engagement with allies and international institutions to create mutually agreeable arrangements. In the field of crypto – or “digital assets” …that means working with G7, G20, OECD, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and others.

One thing to keep in mind is that the Department of Treasury included this: “Such international work should continue to address the full spectrum of issues and challenges raised by digital assets, including financial stability; consumer and investor protection, and business risks; and money laundering, terrorist financing, proliferation financing, sanctions evasion, and other illicit activities.” In other words, one should be extremely careful with their cryptocurrency if they want to avoid having to face sanctions for using it in nefarious ways.

Airbnb Officially Codifies Party Ban

Airbnb announced that they are codifying the party ban that was enacted in August of 2020 (as a temporary ban). According to Airbnb, the temporary ban has proved effective, and they officially codified the ban as their policy.

Airbnb provided some details that led them to codifying the party ban:

“Historically, we allowed Hosts to use their best judgement and authorize parties when appropriate for their home and neighborhood. In late 2018, we tightened our measures to prohibit both “open-invite” parties (i.e., those advertised on social media) as well as “chronic party houses” that had developed into neighborhood nuisances. At that time, we also launched our Neighborhood Support Line in a number of jurisdictions as a direct line for neighbors to communicate any concerns to Airbnb, which has helped us enforce that prohibition on party houses.

“When the pandemic hit, as many bars and clubs closed or restricted their occupancy, we began to see some people taking partying behavior to rented homes, including through Airbnb. This was concerning to use due to both the disruptive nature of unauthorized parties and the risk of such gatherings spreading the virus. As such, we announced the party ban to our community as being “in the best interest of public health”.

According to Airbnb, disruptive parties and events will continue to be prohibited, including open-invite gatherings. “Party house” properties will continue to be prohibited as well.

In addition, Airbnb says that the policy will continue to include serious consequences for guests who attempt to violate these rules, varying from account suspensions to full removal from the platform. In 2021, over 6,600 guests were suspended from Airbnb for attempting to violate Airbnb’s party ban.

The Verge reported that in addition to making the party ban permanent, Airbnb is lifting a 16-person occupancy limit it also introduced in 2020. The company says this is because there are plenty of properties that can comfortably host more than 16 people, and that many of these are used for “multi-generational family trips and larger groups.” This particular policy change will take effect “in the coming months”.

According to The Verge, Airbnb removed an “event-friendly” search filter in 2020, and also removed option for listings to be marked as “parties and events allowed”. It also banned “party houses” in 2019 after five people died during a 100-plus person Halloween event at an Airbnb in Orinda, California.

I think it makes sense for Airbnb to allow large families to make use of a home that has adequate room for everyone who is partaking in a family vacation together. To me, it seems unlikely that a family group would intentionally cause harm to the place they stayed at.

Airbnb no longer allows “party houses”, and I think that’s a good idea. Some people are entirely too irresponsible with places that they don’t own. Nobody wants to come back and find that their home has been trashed. Where will the people who want to attend huge parties go now? Perhaps they will start going to their local bars instead.

WhatsApp Now Lets You Transfer Your Chat History From Android to iPhone

Today, Mark Zuckerberg wrote on Facebook, “We’re adding to WhatsApp the ability to securely switch between phones and transfer your chat history, photos, and voice messages between Android and iPhone while maintaining end-to-end encryption. This is a top requested feature. We launched the ability to switch from iPhone —-> iPhone as well.”

It appears that this was first spotted by the WABBetaInfo website. It provided information for people who want to migrate their chat history from Android to iOS. The first thing to know is that you need to have at least Android 5 installed on your Android device and iOS 15.5 on your iPhone.WABBetaInfo says that since iOS 16 is a beta version, it is not guaranteed that it will work since WhatsApp does not provide support for beta versions of iOS.

When you transfer your chat history across different platforms, WhatsApp is not able to see the data you transfer. In addition, you need to manually enable the end-to-end encrypted backup option right within WhatsApp for iPhone if you want, even if you already enabled encrypted backups on WhatsApp for Android.

The Verge points out that if you already have a preexisting iOS chat history, then the imported Android history will overwrite it. That’s definitely something to consider if you are someone who likes to save your chats.

Engadget reported that the WhatsApp feature will help you move your content over from Android to iOS. It will be part of Apple’s existing “Move to iOS” tool. To be clear, WhatsApp’s feature is available as a beta for now, so you may encounter bugs during the transfer process.

According to Engadget, when you select WhatsApp, it will open automatically and prompt you to give permission to move your data over to iOS. Depending on the amount of content you have, it’ll take awhile to package everything up and transfer it to your iPhone. Apple will also pre-load the WhatsApp icon on your home page so you can just tap it to finish installing it on your new iPhone, instead of having to go through the App Store.

TechCrunch reported that the process you use to transfer to iOS also can be used to transfer your account information, profile picture, individual chats, group chats, chat history, media and settings. However, you can’t transfer your call history or display name.

Overall, it sounds to me like the ability to transfer your WhatsApp information from Android to iOS could be enticing for people who were already thinking about getting an iPhone. One thing to keep in mind is that Meta (parent company of Facebook and Instagram) owns WhatsApp.

DoorDash Added New Features To Their App

DoorDash announced that it has added new features to its app. This could be useful for people who tend to use DoorDash often.

According to DoorDash, new restaurant review features and lists empower consumers to order with confidence, saving thousands of hours annually of decision fatigue searching for what to eat.

The possibilities are endless, but scrolling on the app doesn’t have to be. Today, we are launching new ways to rate, review, and discover the best in every neighborhood while also celebrating and spotlighting our most loved restaurants on Door Dash.

Most Liked Items: Find trusted recommendations from locals at a glance with the “most liked” tags, rate new favorite dishes, and save over 400,000 hours annually, reducing decision fatigue when searching for what to eat.

After ordering on DoorDash, consumers can rate the items in their order by tapping a ‘thumbs up’ or ‘thumbs down’ icon. A restaurant’s three items with the highest numbers of ‘thumbs up’ ratings are displayed on the menu with a “most liked” tag.

Written Reviews: Read other customers’ valuable feedback or share your own recommendations directly in the app.

Public written reviews enable customers to explore detailed feedback and recommendations from their community to discover spots locals are loving directly on the DoorDash restaurant page, saving time toggling between multiple apps to research restaurant reviews.

Top 10 Lists: Peruse curated, dynamic lists that surface the most popular, trending and top-rated restaurants nearby from Top Breakfast Spots to Top New Restaurants.

Top 10 lists leverage DoorDash’s wealth of real-time data from consumer ratings and order volume to showcase the most popular, hottest, and best-rated restaurants to consumers nearby. These lists are dynamic and ever-evolving to further delight and inspire new choices of restaurants or dishes.

Most Loved All Stars: Find customer favorite restaurants that consistently make sure orders are right, on-time, and always delicious.

DoorDash is excited to celebrate top-rated local restaurants that go above and beyond for their customers’ online orders, time and time again with the launch of the Most Loved All Stars. Between the food, the service, and the delivery experience, creating a top-notch customer experience is no small feat.

All of this sounds good, and I can see where it would be useful to most people. Next, DoorDash should require all the restaurants on its app to provide a list of food allergens so people like me can make a safer choice about what to eat.