Ello Emerges as the Anti-Facebook

Facebook is the worst. Ello is emerging as exactly the opposite.

The live site describes Ello as a ‘simple, beautiful, and ad-free social network created by a small group of artists and designers.’

‘You are not a product’ its manifesto declares. It denounces social networks that track and record ‘every post you share, every friend you make and every link you follow” then sell the data to advertisers.’

‘We believe a social network can be a tool for empowerment,’ it proclaims. ‘Not a tool to deceive, coerce and manipulate — but a place to connect, create and celebrate life.’

Ello, where real names are not required, is getting a boost after Facebook booted drag queens because of the ‘deception’ of not using legal names on the site.

Super-minimalistic and easy to navigate… I am liking it so far. Although, it’s really nothing like Facebook, so I don’t see the general masses jumping to convert anytime soon. That’s probably a good thing.

Friend me on Ello: @mixx_cia

Stylish ‘Ringly’ Syncs With iPhone

Wearable technology is gaining popularity, especially with the fashionable new options that are popping up on the web.

Ringly is a line of 18k gold rings with precious and semi-precious stones. Designed by an actual jewelry designer, you would never know that the rings also sync with your phone and apps, vibrating to inform you about important messages, calendar events, and pre-approved notifications so you can keep your phone out of your hands yet still on call.

In a recent Elle article, Founder Christina Mercando explains the idea and the convenience behind Ringly,  “I was just always missing calls and texts because my phone was in my purse, and my family was getting frustrated with me [to the point that] it became a running joke. And I was looking at my hands, and I thought, ‘You know, I wear some big rings. I wonder if I can make a technology that would fit into the things I wear every day that would help solve this problem and be useful?’ And so that’s where the idea came from. It was always about wanting to make beautiful things. It was never, ‘How can we make technology beautiful?’ I wanted to make beautiful things and put technology into them. And I think that’s very different from the way a lot of technology companies work, because they start with the technology first and then design around it. We’re using a very different approach by starting with the style and design.”

Ringly application screenshot, courtesy of Ringly.com
Ringly application screenshot, courtesy of Ringly.com

The current features of Ringly allows the user to get notifications after connecting it to any application on your phone. It will also let you know if it’s too far away from your phone, to say that you’ve left it behind. Or, if you tap your ring, it can vibrate your phone, so you can find your phone in your purse. (!!!)

As a new gadget and concept, Ringly will continue developing the software as time goes on. Mercando stated that the company has recently hired a neuroscientist to do some research and development into expanding the features of the ring.

Mercando says of wearable tech, “It’s still in its infancy right now. We’re seeing a lot of really cool products come out, but in order to hit a mass-production level, I think that they need to start looking better, and they need to start being a little bit more youthful. And for us, we think people are going to be buying electronics in the same way that we buy clothing today: You go into a store, and you buy the one that fits your style that day; even in terms of functionality, you buy the functionality that fits your lifestyle. We really see those things expanding. There are a lot of fashion brands today, and we think there are going to be a lot of wearable tech brands.”

Founder Christina Mercando, photo courtesy of Ringly
Founder Christina Mercando, photo courtesy of Ringly

For now, Ringly is available through pre-order on Ringly.com, however they foresee a collaboration with boutiques both large and small.

“For us,” says Mercando, “it’s more about where you buy jewelry and where our marketers go. It would be more of the Bloomingdales and Nordstrom types, and less of the Best Buys of the world.”

You can get your hands on Ringly for only $145, and they are currently running a 25% off sale for pre-orders on the site.

Totally. Awesome.

Fish, from the inside out

Here’s an intriguing perspective on your fishbowl friends.

These artistic photographs give us an interesting and beautiful look at the inner structures of these aquatic animals.

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Photograph by Adam Summers.

Creator Dr. Adam Summers has made the photoset accessible to the public, placing the images on display at the Seattle Aquarium.

The exhibit, called Cleared: The Art of Science Photography, features 14 large-format photographic prints of fish specimens that were specially stained with dyes to make their skeletal tissues brightly stand out.

Each image is supplemented by poetry by Sierra Nelson.

With the help of longtime friend Ilya Brook, Summers re-shot and digitally manipulated his images through the use of Photoshop, this time with an artistic intent rather than his usual scientific approach.

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Summers, “The Fabulous Fish Guy,” who was a science consultant for the film Finding Nemo, observes that what makes these images so fetching is the almost unlimited level of detail in the aquatic bodies.

“The images allow you to look really, really, really closely but they also allow you to step back and sort of appreciate a large form. To get to that level of fractal detail is somehow viscerally appealing to people,” said Summers.

The key to creating these outstanding fish prints? It’s all in the technique. Two dyes are used to highlight the many bones in the interior of the animal: Alcian blue for the cartilaginous parts, and Alziarin red for the mineralized tissue that has become hard, like bone.

After that, the fish are lightly bleached with peroxide and an intestinal enzyme is used to dissolve flesh. The animal is then placed in glycerin, which makes them transparent.

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A little bit of work with a huge payoff- the mesmerizing and unexpected look at our underwater friends.

“It was completely suprising,” said Summers. “To take pictures that are not intentionally scientific has been great fun.”

The exhibit will run until Spring 2014 at the Seattle Aquarium.

Waze, A Superior Mode of Travel

You’ll never open Maps again. The Waze app is all about contributing to the ‘common good’ out on the open road. Outsmarting traffic, together.

By connecting drivers to one another, Waze creates local driving communities that work together to improve the quality of everyone’s daily driving. Users update real-time information as they travel, cluing other drivers in to essential information like police ahead, traffic jams, road closures, hazards on the road or quicker routes to the destination.

The Waze interface is easily accessible while driving, and has a lock to prevent drivers from becoming too focused on the application while behind the wheel.
The Waze interface is easily accessible while driving, and has a lock to prevent drivers from becoming too focused on the application while behind the wheel.

Waze offers all of the navigational perks that you find in the iPhone’s Maps app or Google Maps, but with the added bonus of real-time updates and user interaction. Think of it as minimally involved Facebook and Mapquest rolled into one.

After registering, users create a profile and earn points based on interaction with the app. You gain points every time you use Waze on a drive or update your route with activities like road reporting, fuel price reports, editing the map, adding street names or house numbers, etc.

The points are a nonessential, but will earn you fun additions to your profile, like the ability to choose from various icons to represent your presence on the road. Users can also update their current mood, join groups, chat with other nearby users and upload photos to ‘map chat.’ Anything from a passenger selfie to an accident photo is acceptable here.

An extremely helpful app, Waze will redirect drivers around closures or areas of heavy traffic, and will loudly notify when police or hazards are reported ahead- saving time and frustration for everyone on the road.

So rest easy knowing that Waze has your back when it comes to cops ahead waiting to ruin your day. Applaud yourself for ensuring that they won’t succeed this time.

 

Get Around in Chicago, Innovative Ways to Ride

With the Ventra fiasco giving the Chicago Transit Authority a hernia as of late, and the cold weather making it extremely difficult to dig our cars out from the snowy streets, we thought it would be beneficial to share some travel innovations that are picking up speed in the windy city.

We've found a way around those rude drivers and smelly, expensive taxi cabs.
We’ve found a way around those rude drivers and smelly, expensive taxi cabs.

Of course there’s one thing that you can always fall back on: taking a good ‘ol cab. Hundreds of these guys trolling the streets of any given Chicago neighborhood- but you never really know what you’re in for when you stick your hand out for a ride.

On-Demand Ride Sharing with Uber and Lyft
These two smartphone applications connect users with a nearby driver at the touch of a button. Drivers are background checked and personality screened to ensure a safe and friendly ride for patrons–even their cars must pass a safety and comfortability screening before being sent into the field.

It’s cashless and donation-based, with rates starting at only $6 for a ride. After connecting a credit or debit card with your account, the application does everything for you after only a few selections. All you need to to is request a pickup at your desired location, and the app will scan the area for the closest drivers, and send one your way.

You may have seen cars with giant, plush, pink mustaches attached to their front grills… no, it's not a new and obnoxious type of bumper sticker- it's the secret sign of Lyft!
You may have seen cars with giant, plush, pink mustaches attached to their front grills… no, it’s not a new and obnoxious type of bumper sticker- it’s the secret sign of Lyft!

Lyft notifies you when the driver is on his or her way, sending photos of the driver and car so you know exactly what to expect. Change your mind? No problem, cancel the Lyft with no repercussions.

Uber has an additional feature where users can select the type of vehicle that they will be in need of: basic taxi/ black car/ SUV/ Limo, etc.

Gaining popularity across the United States, services like Uber and Lyft are most commonly utilized in highly populated urban areas, like the city of Chicago. Sometimes the drivers even provide refreshments and snacks for their riders–probably in hopes of coaxing out a higher donation–but hey, that’s ok, everyone’s happy with a sucker in their mouth, right?

Divvy Bike Rentals
Divvy is a Chicago-based bike sharing system that allows users to rent bikes from various stations around the city. Featuring thousands of bikes at hundreds of stations from Andersonville to Hyde Park- Divvy is available 24/7, 365 days a year. Every station has a touchscreen kiosk, station map, and a docking system that releases bikes using a member key or ride code.

Divvy has set up bike stations at various locations all around Chicago to make the bike-sharing system an effective mode of transport.
Divvy has set up bike stations at various locations all around Chicago to make the bike-sharing system an effective mode of transport.

Annual memberships can be purchased online at Divvy’s website, or 24-hour passes can be printed from any Divvy station- but only annual members will receive a unique Divvy key. Annual memberships are usually $75 for the whole year, but right now annual memberships are on sale for $65.

You’ll get unlimited 30-minute trips for the duration of your membership or temporary pass. Run an errand, grab a bite, commute to work or school… simply ride back to any Divvy station and return the bike once you’ve reached your destination.

Divvy crews are constantly monitoring the stations to ensure that they are neither full nor empty. Having just started in 2013, Divvy is already the 2nd largest bike sharing system in the United States.

According to the website, the word “Divvy” means “to divide and share.” This new bike system aims to connect us all and help to build a stronger local community.

Of course, some minor biking knowledge is required to use the system. Don’t forget your helmet, leave the headphones off, and pay attention to your surroundings…. otherwise you might end up notoriously riding down the Lake Shore Drive Expressway, just like this chick: