Kevin Smith’s Krampus movie is now a non-Christmas-related horror anthology

Kevin Smith has announced that he’s retooling his Christmas horror comedy Comes The Krampus, after the film became a victim of the infamous Krampus movie rush of Winter 2015. Refusing to be cowed, Smith has stripped out the film’s Christmas elements, repurposed its monster, and now announced that the movie has become a horror anthology flick, titled KillRoy Was Here.

The anthology’s name comes from the famous “Kilroy Was Here” graffiti that became popular in America circa World War II. (Apparently, the film’s long-nosed monster resembles the cute little guy.) Smith has cast the film as a kind of gory morality play, noting that, “No one wants to see you spill the blood of innocents, but when someone crosses the line and goes bad, you get to make them pay in horrible ways, and the audience cheers.”

Smith’s last two films, Tusk and Yoga Hosers, were both incredibly messy efforts, albeit ones occasionally livened up with utterly bizarre ideas and visuals. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the shift to a more vignette-based filmmaking style will suit Smith’s current cinematic attention span, allowing him to cram more gross-out spectacle and strange ideas into Killroywithout so much of the meandering padding (or, god help us, Johnny Depp cameos) that diluted his most recent work.

Now, an Algorithm to Teach Robots How to Behave Like a Human in Certain Situations

Scientists have developed a new machine-learning algorithm to help robots display appropriate social behaviour in interactions with humans.

Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) are making virtual and robotic assistants increasingly capable in performing complex tasks, researchers said.

For these “smart” machines to be considered safe and trustworthy collaborators with human partners, however, robots must be able to quickly assess a given situation and apply human social norms, they said.

Now, researchers at Brown University and Tufts University in the US have created a cognitive-computational model of human norms in a representation that can be coded into machines.

They developed a machine-learning algorithm that allows machines to learn norms in unfamiliar situations drawing on human data.

The project funded by the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) represents important progress towards the development of AI systems that can “intuit” how to behave in certain situations in much the way people do.

Now, an Algorithm to Teach Robots How to Behave Like a Human in Certain Situations

“The goal of this research effort was to understand and formalise human normative systems and how they guide human behaviour, so that we can set guidelines for how to design next-generation AI machines that are able to help and interact effectively with humans,” said Reza Ghanadan, DARPA programme manager.
As an example in which humans intuitively apply social norms of behaviour, consider a situation in which a cell phone rings in a quiet library, researchers said.

A person receiving that call would quickly try to silence the distracting phone, and whisper into the phone before going outside to continue the call in a normal voice.

Today, an AI phone-answering system would not automatically respond with that kind of social sensitivity. “We do not currently know how to incorporate meaningful norm processing into effective computational architectures,” Ghanadan said, adding that social and ethical norms have a number of properties that make them uniquely challenging.

Ultimately, for a robot to become social or perhaps even ethical, it will need to have a capacity to learn, represent, activate, and apply a large number of norms that people in a given society expect one another to obey, Ghanadan said.

That task will prove far more complicated than teaching AI systems rules for simpler tasks such as tagging pictures, detecting spam, or guiding people through their tax returns.

However, by providing a framework for developing and testing such complex algorithms, the new

Oppo R11 to be available outside China starting next week

The Oppo R11 – which was made official last week, and is currently only available in China – will soon be available outside of its home country. According to a Weibo post, the device will go on sale in Taiwan next week.

Specifically, the post notes the launch is set for June 21. As for pricing, the phone will carry a tag of NTD 15,990, which translates into around $525. For comparison, the R11’s price in China is CNY2,999, or around $4

Amazon to Buy US Grocer Whole Foods Market for $13.7 Billion

HIGHLIGHTS
Amazon to acquire Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion
Whole Foods Market will continue to operate stores under its brand
The deal is expected to close in the second half of 2017
Online juggernaut Amazon is buying Whole Foods in a deal valued at about $13.7 billion (approximately Rs. 88,300 crore), a strong move to expand its growing reach into groceries.

Amazon.com Inc. will pay $42 (approximately Rs. 2,700) per share for Whole Foods Market Inc., including debt. That marks an 18 percent premium to Whole Foods’ closing price on Thursday.

The deal comes a month after Whole Foods announced a board shake-up and cost-cutting plan amid falling sales. The grocery store operator was also under pressure from activist investor Jana Partners.

The grocery chain, known for its organic options, had been facing increased pressure from rivals, including European grocery chain Lidl, which is planning to enter the East Coast market, along with Aldi and Trader Joe’s.

Amazon to Buy US Grocer Whole Foods Market for $13.7 Billion

Amazon, meanwhile, has been expanding its reach in goods, services, and entertainment.

Whole Foods will keep operating stores under its name and John Mackey will as CEO, with headquarters in Austin, Texas.

The company, founded in 1978, has struggled to differentiate itself as competitors also now offer a plethora of fresh and organic foods, and has said customers may be choosing “good enough” alternatives closer to home. In addition to other natural and organic grocers, it has cited pressure from restaurant chains, meal-delivery companies and traditional supermarkets such as Kroger.

The deal is expected to close in the second half of 2017.

YouTube Is Down, It's Not Just You

If you are wondering why YouTube is down for you, you are not alone, the world’s biggest video-sharing website is suffering an unknown outage currently and the users are unable to access the website.

The users who visit the website can see a 500 error along with a message saying, “500 Internal Server Error Sorry, something went wrong. A team of highly trained monkeys has been dispatched to deal with this situation”, like the one seen below.

youtube-is-down

According to the DownDetector, the YouTube came down around 6 pm GMT. However, we do not have any clear reason for the site coming down. People at Hackread are keeping an eye on this situation and once the website is up or if there is an official statement about the incident from Google about the downtime we will be updating this article.

Update:

After being offline for more than 2hours YouTube came back, but, there has been no word from Google on this incident and why the website was down. Stay tuned and we will update Google’s comment on this issue.

Amazon to Face Tough Wal-Mart Test This Back-to-School Season: JPD

Wal-Mart Stores Inc’s online sales is likely to grow double than Amazon.com Inc during the back-to-school season, helped by the Jet.com acquisition and competitive price offerings, industry research body NPD said.

An aggressive pricing and marketing strategy, coupled with the fact that Amazon’s business has reached maturity in back-to-school sales, will see Wal-Mart winning the online retail tussle this back-to-school season, NPD Chief Analyst Marshal Cohen told Reuters.

“With Wal-Mart’s new Jet.com investment, I would suspect that Wal-Mart is going to basically be able to increase the growth rate, probably almost double that of Amazon,” Cohen said.

Winning back-to-school, the second-biggest shopping season after the winter holidays, has become extremely important for traditional brick-and-mortar retailers as their store operations continue to lose customers to online shopping.

To close the gap with Amazon, Wal-Mart acquired online wholesale retailer Jet.com for $3 billion in 2016, through which it not only expanded its product assortment and added more than 400,000 customers, but also gained e-commerce know-how.

Cohen said he expects Wal-Mart to grow its online sales between 2 percent and 5 percent.

Jet.com provides Wal-Mart with a broader assortment of products than what a store has, including timely promotions and dynamic pricing, Cohen said.

Amazon to Face Tough Wal-Mart Test This Back-to-School Season: JPD

Wal-Mart’s online offerings have risen from 8 million items, at the start of 2016, to more than 20 million by the end of the year. In comparison, Amazon has more than 300 million products.

The world’s largest retailer has also started offering free two-day shipping on eligible orders, much like Amazon’s Prime subscription program.

Wal-Mart’s aggressive efforts to take on Amazon seem to be gaining momentum even as other retailers and department store chains struggle.

Online sales for Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart rose 63 percent in the first quarter of this year, faster than the 29 percent growth during fourth quarter and 20 percent in the third quarter.

Online sales account for about 3 percent of the company’s total sales. Wal-Mart expects online sales growth of 20 percent to 30 percent in the second half of the year, and even faster in the next few years.

Lorde’s second coming: ‘Pop music is my number one inspiration’

There’s a lyric on Lorde’s new album, Melodrama, which catches the ear. It runs, “bet you rue the day you kissed a writer in the dark,” and it’s tart, taut and right. It sounds like the work of someone who has learned the power of words.

There are plenty more standouts where that one came from. You have the “couple of Top Gun pilots flying with nowhere to be” on Homemade Dynamite or “I do my make-up in someone else’s car” on Green Light. When it comes to lyrical snap, the New Zealander is truly running things this time around.

It’s taken a couple of long years for Ella Yelich-O’Connor to follow up her debut, Pure Heroine, but the results demonstrate that it has been time worth taking. That debut and its success changed everything for her, turning the then-teenager’s universe upside-down, so it’s natural that this record seems to be about coming to terms with all those changes and transformations.

Lorde: “My writing this time was inspired by records I really admired, the classic albums like ‘Rumours’ by Fleetwood Mac or ‘Graceland’ by Paul Simon. Photograph: Brendan Walter

In New York, I could be Ella, getting my subway card out, sitting in diners for hours, eavesdropping on people and being myself”

In the last few weeks since she reached the end of the recording and mixing hullabaloo, Yelich-O’Connor has finally been able to begin to make sense of what the songs represent.

“It’s kind of amazing to look at things now from a place of relative calm. I was grappling with and fighting my way through a lot of things on Melodrama as I went along so I can now go ‘oh yeah, that’s what I was upset about a year ago’ and ‘that’s what I was hypothesising about’.”

Young hearts

Melodrama is a record about many things, but chiefly what happens when young hearts run free in a new city. “This record was born out of me going out and dancing a lot and wanting to write music that would work in those spaces,” she says. “I hope you can hear the prints of bodies and dancefloors and you can hear where the love came from. Pure Heroine was much more stationary – I was in one town and there were certain parameters to what I was doing – but Melodrama is something much different.”

She spent much of the time working on this record living in New York. For the most part, she went unrecognised in the city, allowing her to get on with the job of writing and recording, and especially observing.

“Part of why I went to New York was for that anonymity. In New Zealand, everyone knows who I am and while they’re very sweet, I was never able to forget who I was and what I was doing. I’m Lorde and I’m making an album.

NASCAR's first lady of racing Louise Smith is the inspiration for 'Barnstormer' in 'Cars 3'

“Cars 3” character Louise “Barnstormer” Nash was inspired by real-life racer Louise Smith.

Before Janet Guthrie and Danica Patrick, there was Louise Smith — pioneering race car driver and NASCAR legend. As the first woman inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1999, the “Good ‘Ol’ Gal” from Greenville, South Carolina, is also the inspiration behind Disney Pixar’s “Cars 3” character Louise “Barnstormer” Nash (voiced by Margo Martindale). The name serves as a tribute to the driver and her infamous No. 94 1950 Nash Ambassador. Known for her flair and fearless crashes, Smith’s success and style made history in the racing world.

Her journey began with the support of a then-young promoter, Bill France Sr., the eventual co-founder of NASCAR. France helped launch Smith’s career, and she quickly fell in love with the sport.

She gained national notoriety in 1947 at the Daytona Beach and Road Course race, where, legend has it, Smith went to watch but ended up on the track. Entering her husband’s new Ford coupe in the race, the “Barnstormer” wrecked and landed herself on the front page of newspapers across the country.

Known as the “First Lady of Racing,” Smith crashed several cars and broke innumerable bones. In fact, one wreck left her with 48 stitches and four pins in her left knee; others are claimed to have nearly taken her life. Her boldness and spectacular speed took the racing world, and many of the men in it, by surprise.

Smith won an impressive 38 races across four divisions from 1947 to 1956, when she retired. She remained active in the racing world for nearly four more decades before her death in 2006 at age 89. Her legacy lives on with “Car 3,” which hits theaters on Friday.


Louise Smith
ISC Images & Archives via Getty Images

Smith posed in front her car after a crash at North Carolina’s Occoneechee Speedway in the late 1940s. Her car went airborne into the surrounding woods. It took rescue workers more than a half-hour to free Smith from the wreckage.

Louise Smith
ISC Archives/Getty Images

At the first NASCAR Cup Series in Daytona Beach on June 19, 1949, Smith accepted the trophy for sportsman win. Daytona Beach was instrumental in the formation of NASCAR, home to several of its earliest events and the sport’s first track: the Daytona Beach Road Course. Smith was one of three women to compete in the race.

Louise Smith
ISC Archives and Research Center/Getty Images

In another accident at Occoneechee Speedway during the inaugural NASCAR Strictly Stock Series on Aug. 7, 1949, Smith emerged with several injuries from the crash but crawled back into the crushed car for a photo op. Most early NASCAR races, including this one, were held on dirt-surfaced short tracks or dirt fairground ovals. The race was renamed the Grand National series in 1950.

Ethel Flock Mobley, Sara Christian and Louise Smith
ISC Images & Archives/Getty Images

Ethel Flock Mobley and Sara Christian were the two other female NASCAR drivers to compete in the circuits of that era. Before a race at Philadelphia’s Langhorne Speedway on Sept. 11, 1949, the three posed in their rides for a publicity photo intended to attract women to the sport. Mobley drove No. 92, the ’48 Cadillac. Christian, middle, wheeled No. 71 — the ’49 Oldsmobile — finishing best of the three at sixth place overall. Smith sported a ’47 Ford.

Louise Smith
ISC Archives/Getty Images

Smith standing next to her Leslie Motor Co. Nash Ambassador at Occoneechee Speedway on Oct. 29, 1950. Her famed No. 94, the car she raced in the NASCAR Grand National Series in both 1949 and 1950, was the inspiration for the style and name of Disney Pixar’s “Cars 3” character, Louise “Barnstormer” Nash. Smith was both the driver and the owner of this car, an extraordinary claim for a woman behind a NASCAR wheel. She finished 19th in the 200-miler, holding her own against some of the sport’s early greats including Buck Baker and Flock brothers Tim and Fonty.

Louise Smith
AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain

Smith, the first woman inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, showcasing memorabilia in her Greenville, South Carolina, home in 1998. After retiring in 1956, she returned to the racing realm in the 1970s as an owner, sponsoring cars and supporting drivers. Her decades-long involvement in the sport is captured in this room.

'Marketing Is About Inspiration': CMO Leadership Talk With Telefónica/O2's Nina Bibby

What makes a successful marketing leader? In this interview series, I’m meeting up with leading CMOs to discuss the secrets of marketing leadership: what works, and what doesn’t. This time: Nina Bibby, CMO of Telefonica UK (O2).

Thomas Barta: Hi, Nina. I always like to start off with a simple question: What’s great about being a leader in marketing?

Nina Bibby: At its best, marketing is about inspiration: inspiring customers to choose us, buy from us, stay with us and recommend us. It is also about inspiring colleagues behind our customer offer. We are storytellers. Of course, we need to craft that story and ensure there is a compelling fact base behind that story — but we are storytellers. And marketing leaders need to be chief storytellers, engaging and aligning the entire organization behind delivering our best for the customer. It’s very exciting to inspire your colleagues to get behind an ambition. That’s one of the reasons I love marketing.

Barta: Can you share a story that helped you energize your colleagues?

Bibby: Just after I joined InterContinental Hotels (IHG) as senior VP for Global Brand Management, I was handed the massive task of relaunching Holiday Inn globally — the biggest hospitality relaunch in history in terms of number of hotels, number of countries, etc. I was new to the industry and I was new to the company. So, getting the engagement and the belief from many colleagues was pretty hard. This wasn’t just about engaging people at IHG but also about energizing the many franchisees. The way we engaged people was by retelling the story of Holiday Inn from its inception to the current time. We used many quotes from customers about what they loved about the Holiday Inn brand. Those stories and the link with Holiday Inn’s heritage are what helped us win the hearts and minds of all staff involved.

Barta: What’s marketing’s reputation inside your C-suite?

Bibby: We’ve got a firm seat at the top table. We’re fortunate that marketing has P&L accountability at O2, so we are accountable for revenue and for profit. We’ve got pricing within marketing, products, promotion, of course, insights and analytics — it’s very comprehensive. Both on the Executive Committee and on the Management Board, marketing is present. Equally important, our brand is a great source of pride internally, and the organization feels almost a sense of responsibility to do what is best by that brand. Our former CEO used to say, “We are a brand that runs a business, not a business that runs a brand.” Marketing, brand, and customers are up front and visible, and acknowledged to be the most important drivers of our success.

Barta: How do you manage the tension between what customers want and what your CEO wants?

Bibby: I have a simple mantra: “We have to create value for our customers in order to create value from our customers.” It’s got to be a win–win. At O2, for example, we have a digital loyalty program called Priority, where we give people early access to unforgettable live experiences in rugby, entertainment, or music. The program is one of the reasons people choose us and stay with us. But I’m also clear about the value Priority creates for us. We’ve known exactly the loyalty and churn benefits — and the financial impact. We’re creating value for our customers, and we’re creating value for the business.

Barta: Has leading marketing changed from the time when you started to today (if at all)?

Bibby: Because of the ubiquity of digital channels and social media, it’s a more transparent world. As marketers, we have to understand that we’re not going to control all the conversations or all the narratives, and it’s become more challenging for brands to cut through the noise. As we’re a service business, consistency and excellence of the experience is paramount because every interaction is a representative of the brand experience. In fact, everybody who works here is delivering the brand experience, and therefore, I go back to my earlier point that it’s so important to inspire all colleagues. If you can’t inspire your colleagues, you’re not going to be able to inspire your customers. Inspiring colleagues, having them all understand the importance of what we’re trying to do for the customer, making sure everybody’s pointing in the same direction is more vital than ever before.

Ubiquity of digital also brings opportunities, of course, such as the ability to have more personal interactions with customers. I want to create value for customers through every interaction. In order to do that, we use data-driven customer insight to power personalization, ensuring a consistent O2 experience that delivers to customers’ needs.

Credit: Telefonica / O2

Barta: In our research for “The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader,” we’ve learned that successful CMOs don’t just talk about customers — but get their hands dirty and go to the frontline. Do you agree?

Bibby: Absolutely. As a board, we’ve committed that we go to as many of our stores as we can. We talk not just to store leaders but to all the store colleagues or the people in our contact centers. That way, we hear firsthand what customers are saying, what’s working, what’s not working. Last summer, one store manager told me, “How come you do so much research amongst customers, but you don’t do research amongst us?” I thought, “Yeah, that’s a really good point.” We have a permanent panel of customers to test ideas quickly, why not for frontline colleagues. So, we’ve launched the equivalent panel for our retail and contact center staff because they are hearing and seeing what works every single day. Just yesterday, I did store visits in the west of the country again. I think that’s absolutely critical, for marketing leaders to leave the office!

Barta: What’s going to be your biggest future leadership challenge?

Bibby: For me, I guess there’s a couple of things. Leadership was always about having the right team, the right people. The team is number one, two, and three of what I’ve got to get right. This means to make sure we have the right people at the table, that we’re developing them, that we’re coaching them, and let them go to another role when the time is right. Also, the workplace is changing, and therefore, peoples’ expectations are changing, too. Because of digital, we all have the ability to work more flexibly today. In fact, flexible work options are a huge part of what O2 offers. The other challenge on the horizon is the convergence of customer expectations across sectors. Customers expect to receive the same level of service, the same immediacy of fulfillment across their transactions. Why wouldn’t they? We have to continually innovate and re-engineer to ensure we are meeting these expectations.

Barta: Nina, in your organization, what makes you a role model?

Bibby: I’d say I hope I’m a positive role model. First off, I’m a working mother, which is still perhaps too rare on executive committees and boards. I strive to make life work. I love my work. I’m passionate about it; it excites me. Of course, I adore my family, and I’m passionate about them and devoted to them. These are not mutually exclusive things. I’m not trying to balance them. I want to embrace them, and I want my team to see and feel it’s about making life work versus work–life balance. And I think that’s a really important message — getting away from the guilt.

I guess the other thing is customer first. I am always the one who is loudest, strongest, most vocal about “Where’s the customer in this?”

Barta: What’s the most important leadership advice you’d love to give to other people?

Bibby: If you want to get true “engagement,” you’ve got to really invest time. People value your complete attention and focus on them as individuals. It’s about letting people know that you’ll support them. You are only going to grow if you encourage risk-taking. And if you take risks, mistakes will be made. That’s just a fact. Your people need to know you’ve got their back. Mistakes are going to happen, and that’s okay.

My other advice: Let go of your ego. Don’t be afraid to show your vulnerability, to say, “I’ve been there. This is how I learnt. This is how I grew from that position.”

Barta: Nina, many thanks for your thoughts.

Marketing leadership expert and keynote speaker Thomas Barta is a former McKinsey partner and the author of the new leadership book The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader (with Patrick Barwise).

CamSoda jumps into the world of paid life-streaming

Have you always wanted to show your messy room to hundreds of people? Want to get paid for the pleasure of streaming your breakfasts, lunches, and dinners? Feel a real need to share how long you can stare idly at your phone? CamSoda has a deal for you.

CamSoda is a streaming cam service featuring men and women in various states of undress and it is now offering a unique life-streaming program that lets you show everyone your business and nets you $200 a month and a free “custom” webcam. The service, LifeStream, is mostly NSFW so don’t click through right now.

While we could chalk this up to a publicity stunt by a publicity-savvy company, LifeStream does offer a compelling use case for live streaming. The “LifeStream” package has a fairly picky acceptance process and those chosen get a number of webcams to place around their house as well as a $200 stipend and CamSoda pays for their monthly Internet bill. In other words if you’re fairly certain your life is compelling enough to live stream then someone wants to pay you to do it.

CamSoda is careful to explain that they are looking for “non-sexual and sexual” candid live streams and that they are entering into an “arms race” with Facebook, Instagram, and SnapChat. To be fair, I would argue that CamSoda hasn’t just entered the arms race but that they’ve detonated the Big One. While services like Facebook offer wan, bland and generally unwatchable live video – with the occasional newsmaking exception – CamSoda has weaponized the process and ensures that the live streamers, if they aren’t doing sexy things, will at least try to be interesting.

And it doesn’t just have to involve sexy times. One could imagine a house full of programmers in Palo Alto paying for their La Croix by live streaming their brodeo or a band live streaming their home/practice space. To paraphrase Warhol, in the future everyone will be famous until they’re sick of it.

 

Further, CamSoda is looking to add a little VR to your live stream. From their press release:

CamSoda is currently testing a virtual reality (VR) camera to bring a fully immersive experience to the masses. The company has plans to incorporate VR into LifeStream in the coming months. This will allow participants to share their experiences more intimately, enabling viewers to feel as though they are actually in the room with them.

Porn, once again, is leading the technical arms race. And they have the right idea.

I predict a time when companies will find that it’s getting harder and harder to get and monetize user-generated content. While Twitter and Facebook are sitting pretty now, future networks will encourage us to broadcast to ever-more-granulated audiences and celebrities will no longer lend their names to companies that refuse to pay them for the privilege. A general UGC blow-out like this, then, is what companies will have to end up doing eventually anyway.

Ultimately this about seeing people maybe having sex. However, as we march ever forward into the world of new media who knows – maybe video of you, your unmade bed, and your floppy golden retriever will be part of a live streaming sensation that eclipses Hollywood. It could happen.