STYLE SCOOP: Fendi’s Google “Drone Cam”, Is Donna Karan Leaving DKNY?

You won’t be at the Fendi show in Milan this week? No problem. The Italian house has partnered with Google to create the “Drone Cam” — viewers online will get aerial shots of the show via this fashionable flying saucer, or choose to look on the normal way. With instant replay available, there might not be a better seat in the house than right in front of your computer.

Page Six is reporting that Donna Karan’s latest New York runway show could possibly be her last… Is the designer taking retirement at 65?


Man Goes to Jail Because of Google+; An Open Letter to Google and Facebook

Gmail hates you, and Google wants to see you go to jail. If the megalopolis tech company can’t topple social media giant Facebook, then it will gladly see you behind bars.

Some poor sap in Massachusetts (let’s call him Thomas Gagnon) was going about his poor miserable existence on earth. That was until he got arrested by a slight mishap by Google+ when his ex-girlfriend (who previously filed a restraining order against Gagnon) was sent an invite to join his friend circle. Whoops. Sounds like Gagnon has gone frog sticking without a light, except Google sent the invite without his permission – and he was jailed for it. Yes, Big Brother is not only watching you, tapping your phones, hacking your Target account, and reading your emails, he’s also pissing off your ex-girlfriends and everyone who’ve you’ve ever shared a drunken one night stand with their random Google+ invites. (Provided you exchanged emails.)

Google+ allows users to aggregate email contacts into various groups, which promotes unwarranted invites.

Response From Google Over Incident:Thanks for your feedback. Right now the emails that go out alert people of your activity on Google+, and more importantly the sharing of content with them. We send them an email when they aren’t yet on Google+ so they know that you are out there in the world of G+. They should only incur this email once.”

And that’s precisely what it did in the case of Thomas Gagnon of Massachusetts…t he one time got him sent to jail because Google stalked his ex-girlfriend for him!

In response, I’ve penned an open letter to Google+ and Facebook:

Hi Social Networks,

Quit having people I hate and ex-girlfriend pop up under “People You May Know” with requests to add them as a friend!

Facebook/Google+, are you just screwing with my head? It’s always some grinning-wild-card-face-from-the-past-who’s-screwed-me-over-in-one-way-or-another, popping up in Facebook/Google+’s automatized rotation, suggesting that I become friends with them or asking to let them join my “circle.”

“Look, there’s the comedy promoter who didn’t pay me!”

“Wow, it’s that guy I went to high school with that made my life miserable by making fun of my Wrangler jeans.”

“Hey, it’s that ex-girlfriend that cheated on me behind my back.”

Thank you Facebook. Thank you Google+.

Now all we have to do is count down the days until Google Glass comes into vogue, at which time strangers in the bathroom will secretly video you peeing at the urinal.

Google Buses: Gentrifying the Home of The Summer of Love

I was visiting San Francisco this past week. The freaky people used to run the show in the City By The Bay, but now when you cross the city limits, the town feels like it has a big, shiny, corporate tech sponsor. A stroll through San Francisco feels like walking through Palo Alto North; weeknights have become strangely silent. (Sh-sh-sh! You’ll wake the tech millionaires!) Hot hipster hippie girls have been replaced by those who know a lot about html. San Francisco has become a city filled with people who’d think riding a razor scooter around the office is the craziest thing you can ever do. 

Obviously, tech-titans like Twitter have moved to town, trumpeting the Bataan death march of low rent and the city’s artistic community.

A big symbol of the sea of gentrification and change are the regular Silicon Valley private buses that whisk people in the city to their high-paying tech jobs at giant companies like Google, Facebook, and Yahoo. Much like an extension of junior high, each morning tech workers wait at designated bus stops so large metallic buses can provide them with the morning commute to billion-dollar Silicon Valley corporations. (Of course the buses are equipped with Wi-Fi to squeeze an extra few hours of work out of everyone.)

Yesterday, though, crunchy was added to the smooth:

A group of protesters surrounded and blocked a Google employee commuter bus for more than a half hour Monday morning at a Muni bus stop at 24th and Valencia streets in San Francisco’s Mission District. The buses have, for some, become a symbol of tech-fueled gentrification, economic inequality and soaring housing prices in the city.

The bus, which was headed to Google’s Mountain View campus, had riders on board. A dozen protesters stood around the bus with signs saying “Public $$$$, Private Gains,” “Stop Displacement Now,” “Fine $271, Total Fine $1 Billion,” and “Warning: Two-Tier System.”

San Francisco is currently going through a major eviction crisis; droves of artists are being driven from the town that fostered the Summer of Love, The Dead Kennedys, and The Beatnik Movement. Adding insult to injury, the Google buses have become a symbol of economic disparity and class warfare, slapping the city’s predominantly Latino neighborhood. (Though, in pure San Francisco irony, the buses do cut down in CO2 emissions.)

The revolution won’t be televised, but it will be live-streamed on your iPhone.

Can Apple, Google, and Samsung Make Tech Fashionable?

Sponsored by Appinions

Wearable tech has been abuzz among the tech, fashion, and consumer communities lately. Innovations in smartphones, smart watches, and other wearable accessories with technological purposes are beginning to infiltrate the market with interesting dynamics, as seen in a recent study conducted by the influence analytics firm Appinions. It seems companies like Google and Apple have much more planned for us – it’s just the beginning.

With the recent rollout of a campaign for the Galaxy Gear smart watch, Samsung impressed many with the functionality of its new wrist wear – but beyond the tech obsessed, will we really wear it? I need it to look better than that – I hardly turn my phone off enough as it is. Convince me, Samsung. Romance me.

Regardless of my opinions of the aesthetics of the watch featured in the video, it seems there may be another version in circulation. Oscar de la Renta’s PR star Erika Bearman recently Instagrammed a Samsung Galaxy Gear smart watch belonging to Hannah Bronfman, so whether or not the design is stylish in itself, the functionality is taking precedence, at least for some influencers. To be fair, Hannah’s white and metal version out-fashions the other iterations on view in Samsung’s TV and YouTube spots – they’d be wise to showcase the best looking versions.


In regards to Google Glass, model Coco Rocha wasn’t too shy to voice her qualms about it when testing the product for PCMag (not a fashion magazine, obviously), not least of which the awkwardness of the glasses. They’re not exactly stylish, nor discreet. But Google is upping other cool factors, like the introduction of the music function interaction, and earbuds designed to work specifically with Google Glass, maybe to make up for it. They’re still frighteningly obvious as a piece of wearable tech, and not necessarily a fashion piece, so there’s still work to be done. Maybe Linda Farrow should swoop in and collaborate with Google on a truly stylish pair – Linda Farrow has already proven to play well with others, and Google could use a boost of chic.

Apple seems to have taken note of the need for wearable tech to also be fashion – after all, it scooped up execs from both Burberry and YSL in the past year, Angela Ahrendts and Paul Deneve, respectively and impressively. Though we haven’t seen the fruits of Apple’s wearable tech labor just yet, they’ve filed for trademark rights on the iWatch in Japan, so you can bet it’s coming, especially since Apple CEO Tim Cook finds the wrist “interesting.” It’s something he has in common with many a fashion designer, though perhaps for different reasons. Still, maybe they should have a chat. Personally I’m holding out for an iWatch that calls to mind the timelessness of a Tank or Ballon Bleu. So Apple, it’s like I told Samsung: Impress me. I love to be courted with pretty things.

One piece of wearable tech that caught on functionally and stylishly is Nike’s FuelBand – it’s meant to be sporty, so the appropriately sporty aesthetic is chic – it fits where it’s supposed to, especially in this time we’re in with sneakers (albeit the right ones) as appropriate footwear at, and not just to the office or drinks. We’re also so obsessed with our own stats; it fits right into society’s current interests and aesthetics. Right place, right time.

The most obviously fashionable of all tech collaborations has to be the CFDA’s eBay collaboration on USB bracelets with designers like Mara Hoffman, Michael Bastian, Milly, Rachel Zoe, and Shipley & Halmos. Though functionally simplistic, they are wearable tech, and fashion focused. We just have to get the high tech guys working with the high fashion ones.

I’m rooting for you, tech giants. In the words of Tim Gunn, “Make it work.”


Shhhhh!: NSA Taps Google and Yahoo Links

Can you keep a secret? The NSA has secretly broken into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world. No biggie, huh?

Well, by taking those links, the NSA has the ability to collect information from hundreds of millions of user accounts – and read them at will. (I’m talking to you – grandma!) How do we know this? From documents turned over by everyone’s favorite American turned Ruskie: former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

All I can say is; good thing that this disclosure didn’t happen during the George W. Bush administration; citizens would be rioting in the streets. In 2013, we kind of shrug our shoulders and use this information as comical fodder on late night talk shows. It’s business as usual that the NSA has broken into two of the biggest Internet companies; intercepting information flowing between the enormous data centers that those companies maintain around the world. Much like on Scooby Doo: If it wasn’t for that meddling American traitor, Snowden, we’d never know about this!

“According to a top secret accounting dated Jan. 9, 2013, NSA’s acquisitions directorate sends millions of records every day from Yahoo and Google internal networks to data warehouses at the agency’s Fort Meade headquarters. In the preceding 30 days, the report said, field collectors had processed and sent back 181,280,466 new records — ranging from “metadata,” which would indicate who sent or received e-mails and when, to content such as text, audio and video.

Word of Advice Americans: Treat your private email correspondences in the same way you treat posting party photos on your Facebook wall. Stop emailing those Cabo spring break party pics or bragging about how much weed you smoked last weekend – all this information might be soon held against you. Look at it this way; whenever you send an email, just pretend the NSA is bcc’ed in the address field. What the hell did you think; that all these free Google gmail accounts didn’t come with a price? Hopefully, the US Government is too busy spying on foreign governments to glance at your personal gmails….”


-In training materials, the NSA boasts that their program, XKeyscore, is its “widest-reaching” system for developing intelligence from the Internet.

-XKeyscore covers “nearly everything a typical user does on the Internet, including the content of emails, websites visited and searches, as well as their metadata.

-Analysts are advised to use the metadata also stored in the databases to narrow down what to review.

-Under PRISM, the NSA already gathers huge volumes of online communications records by legally compelling tech giants such as Yahoo and Google, to turn over any data matching court-approved search terms.

-Whistleblower Snowden stated in a Guardian interview that when he was with the NSA: “I, sitting at my desk could “wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge or even the president, if I had a personal email.”


Spend a Stylish Summer with the Tech Elite of Silicon Valley

The last time I spent a weekend in Menlo Park, I got sunburnt. Yes, it might come as a surprise that the birthplace of Google Glass can also be a hip travel destination with plenty of chances to catch glimpses of the blazing California sun, but the area is shedding its dorky backstory and emerging as one of the hippest getaway spots on the left coast.

For years, Silicon Valley — the region of the San Francisco bay peninsula that stretches from Palo Alto to San Jose, and where Facebook, Google, Apple, YouTube, eBay, and Yahoo are all headquartered — didn’t have a town square, a physical epicenter where the new breed of hip-to-be-square wealthy wunderkinds could gather, gush about Steve Jobs, and gloat about IPOs.

That all changed after the Rosewood Sand Hill hotel in Menlo Park started attracting entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. The local tech elite come to the Rosewood to mingle with like-minded power players. Its ideal location in the center of Silicon Valley makes the hotel the perfect place to have a lunch meeting, host a conference, or just to catch some fresh air away from the office. Yet it’s still close enough to the neighboring tech headquarters as to not risk getting stuck in commuter traffic.

Surrounded by drab businesses hotels (even the Four Seasons in nearby Palo Alto is rather bland), the Rosewood is a sight for sore eyes and can really make an impression for more boastful affairs. The picturesque pool area is the go-to hotspot for exclusive cocktail parties, and other industry-only elegant soirees have lured the millionaires (and billionaires) in the area.

Want to check out one of these parties to pitch your next great app idea (Grindr for pot dealers? Pandora for music videos?) but didn’t get an invitation because you’re not the founder of Instagram? Don’t worry. Most of these things just advertise themselves as invite-only. No one is there checking names or, god-forbid, Twitter followers. If anyone stops you to ask questions while in the hotel’s bibliotheca-style lobby bar, just tell them your name is Dave Morin. You invented Path. And as for dress code: make sure you wear a hoodie.

But beware looking too much like a fresh-faced, tech-savvy executive, especially on Thursday nights, when the Rosewood welcomes matchmakers for their stylish and popular, yet unofficial, “Cougar Night.”

The only women you should be mingling with are Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer. But how to “lean in” and start a conversation with the first ladies of tech? Tell Sheryl that her TED Talk made you proud to be an unemployed stay-at-home dad (a.k.a. trophy husband) and remind Marissa that she looked flawless in Alexander McQueen. They may be powerful feminists, but they still like to receive compliments.

For those visiting Silicon Valley on business to secure the next billion dollar deal, there’s even more incentives to choose a stay at the Rosewood Sand Hill. The hotel also offers private two and three-bedroom villas, ideal for out-of-town businessmen working remotely during an extended stay.

Soon, Silicon Valley might become a travel destination for more than just geeks with startups. Architecture and design enthusiasts will be interested to see the truly spectacular buildings being planned to drastically reinvent the Silicon Valley skyline.

The new Googleplex in Menlo Park will be made up of several bent buildings connected by bridges. Nearby in Menlo Park, Facebook has hired iconic architect Frank Gehry to design its headquarters expansion. And in Cupertino, Apple is planning to land a spaceship-like structure that has been dubbed the “Death Star” because of the project’s outlandishly sci-fi delusions of grandeur.

So next time you’re in Northern California looking to meet Mark Zuckerberg while admiring one-of-a-kind architecture, take the Cal Train to Silicon Valley. Just remember to apply sunscreen.

[BlackBook San Francisco Guide; Listing for Rosewood Sand Hill; More by Oscar Raymundo]

Google Just Trying To Ruin Music At This Point

So you know about Google Play Music, right? It’s one of those Google things you never use because why would you; music is everywhere and all around you, but also it’s mostly on iTunes and Spotify. That is why Google wanted to add a streaming aspect, and this week unveiled Google Play Music All Access, a $9.99-per-month music subscription service that’s both annoying and unwieldy at the moment.

At least when you open it in a web browser. As TechCrunch points out, a large part of this service is geared toward Android users being able to stream music directly to their mobile devices—so rather than design something that could really take on Spotify (with its “24 million active users and 6 million paying subscribers”), they’ve come up with an application that might help them move a few thousand smartphones. Good job lowering those expectations!

The interface looks nice but quickly bewilders with its proliferation of pop-up windows, extraneous widgets, and the like. And because it’s Google, they creepily already know your credit card information when you try to log in the first time. But what continues to fascinate here is how big tech still lives in complete denial about one fact: for the most internet-savvy customers, all music is now essentially free. Do I really need to pay ten bucks a month so a website can tell my friends I sampled the new Vampire Weekend record? No, I really do not.

Follow Miles on Twitter here

Google Now Launches, We Don’t Need To Think Anymore

You heard me. Now that Google has launched Google Now today – its own personal assistant service inside its Google Search app – we no longer need our iCalendar, Siri, mothers, or our cerebral cortexes, just simply either an iPhone or iPad – where the at-your-service assistant is debuting for the very first time. 

By downloading the app, you can have your every step counted and tracked monthly, be told when to leave for work/restaurant reservations based on the latest traffic info, and receive birthday reminders for those people (best friend since childhood, sleep-deprived girlfriend, sensitive sister) who would shun you if you forgot. 

It even sends you nearby real estate listings from Zillow in case you see your dream West Village townhouse for sale and you’re ready to swoop in for it in a fit of adrenaline. 

See? Soon you’ll never have to make the decisions. You’ll never have to tell yourself what to do. Who wears the pants in your house? Google Now. 

Follow Bonnie on Twitter here.

So, What’s Your Hilarious April Fool’s Day Plan?

I see you there, reader. You’ve got your phone at hand, or your Tweetdeck open, preparing that brilliant Facebook status or tweet for April Fool’s Day that will knock everyone’s socks off. Maybe it’s topical, or messing with someone’s head with wrong information about what happened on Game of Thrones last night, or changing your relationship status to "engaged" when no such thing has occurred. Maybe you learned PhotoShop this year and are ready to fudge some fake Sonogram photos or ‘shop you and your significant other in front of the Chapel of Elvis in Vegas. You eloped! How could you? And not tell anyone? Anyway, this is also your annual reminder that this has probably been done, and just pack it in. Especially if what you were planning was a parody account, and especially if it was about Kevin Ware. I hope no one has done that yet.

Or, if you are representing a brand other than your personal one, chances are you’re thinking of some April Fool’s Day prank to show everyone how irreverent and hilarious you are, and that it’s not just professional social media engagement digitizing all the time, or whatever. You could just get silly with it, like Google did with "Google Nose." (If I were Google, I’d have trolled everyone by promising to restore the old Google Reader, only to have them realize what day it was, further rubbing salt in the wound. I would have also just restored the old Google Reader.) Or just bring in the all-stars—YouTube went all-out and brought back Antoine Dodson and the "Charlie Bit My Finger" kids to declare that YouTube has just been an elaborate contest this whole time, and the deadline ends today. The premise is amusing, but the commenters have way too good of grammar and not enough casual disregard for human decency to be real YouTube commenters. 

Anyway, nobody’s going to really remember your hilarious April Fool’s Day thing by the end of this week, so, you know, don’t be bummed out when everyone’s moved on. It’s the Internet, you know?