TIME apps

Sales of Frank Underwood’s Favorite iPad Game Are Skyrocketing

Kevin Spacey as U.S. Congressman Frank Underwood in a scene from the first season of the Netflix original series, "House of Cards."
Melinda Sue Gordon—AP Kevin Spacey as U.S. Congressman Frank Underwood in a scene from the first season of the Netflix original series, "House of Cards."

Monument Valley plays a big role in House of Cards' new season

Frank Underwood is going indie.

Kevin Spacey’s fictional president in House of Cards is well known for his love of shoot-‘em-ups like Call of Duty, but in season 3, he’s spotted playing two independently produced mobile games: an iPad puzzle quest called Monument Valley and the interactive story mod called The Stanley Parable.

Monument Valley plays a surprisingly important role in the plot of the third season. Luckily for Ustwo, the U.K.-based company behind the game, sales have skyrocketed for the app.

Underwood plays Monument Valley in a close-up shot for almost two minutes; later, he mentions it by name to his staffers. It turns out that Underwood found out about the game through a review written by the writer Thomas Yates, whom the president recruits to write some propaganda about his controversial jobs plan. Here’s the (fictional) review:

“Whoever you are, whoever you think you are, believe also you’re a silent princess. Your name is Ida, your journey is one through a forgotten landscape of twisting staircases and morphing castles, atop floating stones defiantly crossing an angry sea, within dimly lit caverns cobwebbed with ruins, M.C. Escher could only grasp at in a dream state.”

Read the rest of the story at the Daily Dot.

TIME innovations

Seizure-Detecting Smartwatch Could Save Lives

The Empatica Embrace can send seizure alerts

The Empatica Embrace has the features of many other smartwatches: it can monitor heart rate and sleep patterns just fine, for instance. But it can also do something most watches don’t: send out an epilepsy alert.

Paired with a smartphone app, the Embrace can alert another person when the watch wearer is having an epileptic episode or any other kind of disruption in the sympathetic nervous system.

“Seizures can seriously hurt or even kill people,” says Rosalind Picard, a professor at the MIT Media Lab who helped develop the watch’s technology, “and we need an alert to intervene.”

The watch, designed by a Milan- and Cambridge-based team, uses stress levels combined with physical movement to detect epileptic attacks. The watch’s wearers may opt-in to have their anonymized data used for medical research.

The watch raised $596,000 on IndieGogo, more than five times its original goal.

TIME apps

The Most Addictive Site On The Internet Is Coming To Your iPhone

Imgur has a new iPhone app

The web’s most addicting photo site can now follow you everywhere you go.

Imgur is launching a new app on Thursday that redesigns image and GIF browsing for your iPhone, The Verge reports. It’s not Imgur’s first mobile app, but this is the one the website is banking on getting off the ground.

Unlike the Imgur website, its new app shows a grid of tiny images that you can click on, each with a title. The app sorts images by what’s most viral on the website, as well as offering a selection of more random images.

Imgur is working on a feature that will allow users to upload photos from their phones, as well as an Android app. Imgur is often used to host images for posting on Reddit and other social media platforms.

TIME technology

More Proof That Steve Jobs Was Always a Business Genius

Jobs & Wozniak At The West Coast Computer Faire
Tom Munnecke—Getty Images Steve Jobs (left) and Steve Wozniak at the first West Coast Computer Faire, where the Apple II computer was debuted, in San Francisco, April 16th or 17th, 1977

The Homebrew Computer Club first convened on Mar. 5, 1975

By now, it’s become part of the Steve Jobs mythology that, while he wasn’t as skilled at the tech side as some of his co-workers might have been, he was the one with the business acumen to turn personal computers into the mega-industry it is today.

But, unlike some after-the-fact creation myths, this particular bit of received wisdom has been around since the beginning — the very beginning. The Homebrew Computer Club, which first convened on this day, Mar. 5, in 1975, was where Apple’s Steve Wozniak and others would trade tech ideas and parts. In a 1983 TIME profile of Steve Jobs, Wozniak revealed that his friend Steve Jobs would occasionally come to meetings, but not for the same reasons everyone else did:

Wozniak and some other friends gravitated toward an outfit called the Homebrew Computer Club in 1975, and Jobs would occasionally drop by. Wozniak was the computer zealot, the kind of guy who can see a sonnet in a circuit. What Jobs saw was profit. At convocations of the Homebrew, Jobs showed scant interest in the fine points of design, but he was enthusiastic about selling the machines Wozniak was making.

“I was nowhere near as good an engineer as Woz,” Jobs freely admits. “He was always the better designer.” No one in the neighborhood, however, could match Jobs’ entrepreneurial flair and his instincts for the big score. It was Jobs who badgered local electronics suppliers for credit; Jobs who arranged for payment (“They’d say, ‘Well, how’s 30 days net?’ We said, ‘Sign us up.’ We didn’t know what 30 days net was”); Jobs who attracted a first-class industrial p.r. firm and a team of experienced managers; Jobs who organized the early manufacturing; Jobs who finally persuaded Wozniak to leave Hewlett-Packard; and Jobs who gave the fledgling company a name (“One day I just told everyone that unless they came up with a better name by 5 p.m., we would go with Apple”).

Read the full story, here in the TIME Vault: The Updated Book of Jobs

TIME Companies

The Real Meaning of Etsy’s Initial Public Offering

The logo of Etsy Inc., is displayed for a photograph in Tiskilwa, Illinois, U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015. Etsy Inc., where people sell handmade crafts and vintage goods, may be the biggest technology IPO to come out of New York since 1999. Etsy is working on an IPO that could take place as soon as this quarter, people familiar with the matter said. Photographer:  Daniel Acker/Bloomberg
Daniel Acker—Bloomberg via Getty Images The Etsy logo is displayed on a smartphone in front of sewing machine in Tiskilwa, Ill., on Jan. 20, 2015

Twee jokes aside, the handmade marketplace's IPO is a test for Wall Street

Etsy’s decision to go public seems to have unleashed a wave of jokes about Portlandia, yarn crafts, and Brooklyn hipsters on Wall Street. Go ahead and get it out of your system, and when you’re done consider for a moment what this stock offering, which could come as early as April, will mean for the tech IPO market at large.

Founded in 2005, Etsy has aged better than many of the startups that have emerged during the past decade, like Yelp or Groupon. With revenue still growing close to 60% a year, the company seems to have a fair amount of gas in its growth engine. That’s because Etsy was designed to do something that didn’t really exist at scale before: create a marketplace devoted to connecting those who love to make handcrafted goods with consumers who love buying them.

Etsy’s origins lie in real-world craft fairs, tightly connecting the creators who drove the maker movement in ways that a broader marketplace like eBay couldn’t. The marketplace charges sellers a 3.5% fee on completed transactions plus a 20 cents per item to list fees on the site for four months. Sellers can also pay extra for shipping labels, direct checkout and promoted listings, and these value-added services now make up 47% of Etsy’s total revenue.

But while Etsy is one of the more successful communities to have emerged on the Internet in the past decade, it’s not exactly counted among the so-called “unicorns”, the rare and wildly popular startups, like Uber or Airbnb, that can raise megaround after megaround of private financing, skirting the need for an IPO and all the regulation and scrutiny that come with a publicly traded stock.

When Etsy filed its S-1 Wednesday, it became clearer why. Airbnb is reportedly near a $20 billion valuation, while Uber is valued at twice that amount. Etsy didn’t indicate what the company may be worth after its IPO, but it’s hoping to raise $100 million, and given that many Internet IPOs float only 5% or 10% of their outstanding shares, that could lead to an IPO that values the company between $1 billion and $2 billion.

The Etsy offering could be an important testing of the IPO waters for other companies that have growing businesses and devoted followings, but that are not able to secure large rounds of private financings. The coming months may well see more of these companies seeking IPOs if US interest rates begin to edge higher. That could bring an end to the six-year stock rally, prompting investors in both public and private markets to be choosier about where they put their money.

For Etsy, the challenge is in extending the growth in its core market to a broader range of consumers. Nearly 80% of Etsy’s sales come from repeat buyers, many of whom prefer to buy from individual producers. Etsy has 1.4 million active sellers, 95% of them running Etsy shops from their homes.

To keep growing, Etsy has had to implement changes that have alienated some longtime sellers, like expanding from handmade goods to those manufactured in small batches. And it’s decided it can’t rely mostly on the word-of-mouth referrals that drove its early growth. As a result, Etsy’s spending on search engines and other kinds of marketing rose 122% in 2014 to $40 million.

That aggressive spending caused Etsy to swing from an operating profit of $733,000 in 2013 to a $6.3 million operating loss last year. Despite the loss, Etsy still generated $12 million in operating cash flows. Meanwhile, the company’s cash on hand increased to $70 million at the end of 2014 from $37 million a year earlier. Both figures are indications of healthy business operations.

The prospectus, however, also warned of two “material weaknesses” in the way Etsy controls its financial reporting—one related to how it accounts for certain unnamed expenses and another related to “period-end accruals.” It’s not clear that either will lead to a restatement of earnings, but normally companies wait until these kinds of financial kinks are ironed out before going public. The presence of these disclosures may suggest Etsy is under pressure to complete its IPO quickly.

Another question is how Wall Street will receive Etsy’s corporate idealism. Unlike Groupon, Etsy doesn’t play up its quirkiness—a streak of humor that ultimately fell flat with investors—but its prospectus makes clear it marches to the beat of its own drum. The company’s name is taken from a phrase repeated through Fellini’s 8 ½, and its independent spirit remains strong today.

Which is why Etsy’s S-1 contained sentences like, “We eat on compostable plates, and employees sign up to deliver our compost by bike to a local farm in Red Hook, Brooklyn, where it is turned back into the soil that produces the food we enjoy together.” Or the risk factor that the company’s “focus on long-term sustainability” may hamper its short-term performance.

Google and Facebook both issued such warnings, but Etsy is raising the ante by citing sustainability and environmental concerns, rather than innovation, as the long-term objective that weigh on short-term profits. These goals are laudable and worthy in the real world, but inside the rarefied, profit-obsessed realm of Wall Street they will either be glossed over—or zeroed in on when it comes time to cut costs.

For now, though, Etsy is likely to receive a warm welcome on Wall Street. Internet IPOs with brand names familiar to consumers are a rare item these days, unlike the legion of obscure if promising drug startups. Etsy’s first test will be in showing that the spending on marketing is translating into new and loyal users. Handcrafted goods are as old as commerce itself, and Etsy has given them a modern twist. Whether that can scale up to a mainstream market remains to be seen.

TIME Companies

Here’s How to Get a Job With Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook Holds f8 Developers Conference
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the opening keynote at the Facebook f8 conference on April 30, 2014 in San Francisco, California.

“I will only hire someone to work directly for me if I would work for that person,” he said

Job hunters, pay attention: Mark Zuckerberg just revealed his one golden rule for hiring new employees.

“I will only hire someone to work directly for me if I would work for that person,” Zuckerberg told the audience at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, reports the Telegraph.

While he cited Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg as an example of this rule, he cautioned that “Facebook is not a company for everyone in the world.”

“The most important thing is to keep your team as small as possible,” he said. “[Facebook] serves more than a billion people around the world but our team has fewer than 10,000 people.”

TIME Smartphones

These Are the 15 Most Useful iPhone and Android Voice Commands

man-using-cellphone
Getty Images

You can get the answer to virtually any question

I’ll be honest: Even though I’m supposed to be a technology expert, I’ve long resisted using Siri and my smartphone’s voice commands. For the longest time, voice recognition on phones just wasn’t that good. All the errors were frustrating and often seemed to eat up more time than just typing in commands and opening up apps manually.

These days, though, I’ve found myself using Siri more often. Speech recognition has gotten a lot better, and Siri has gotten a lot smarter and more powerful. You can do virtually anything via your phone’s voice commands, from posting to Twitter to finding the best pizza pie to figuring out just how deep 20,000 leagues really is.

Not sure how to get the most out of your phone just by speaking to it? No worries – those of us here at Techlicious have put together this guide of the 15 most useful phone voice commands for iOS and Android. Take a look and give some of these a try – I really can’t rave enough about how useful and easy these commands are.

How Voice Commands Work

In general, Apple iPhone owners will want to issue voice commands through Siri (hold the home button); Google Android users should use Google Now (via the Google app) and tap the microphone icon. You can place a Google app widget on your home screen or, if your Android phone has a home key button, download the Home2 Shortcut app (free on Google Play) and configure your home button to launch Google Now with a double tap (Samsung owners may have to go to S Voice > Menu > Settings, and uncheck the second option to launch with the Home button.). iPhone owners can also download and use Google Now via the Google app for voice commands too, but Siri is more convenient.

Most commands can be issued in plain English, as if you were asking your friend to do something for you. Want to make a phone call? Then access Siri or Google Now and tell your phone you want to make a phone call. If your phone needs more information, it’ll ask for it.

Make a call

Okay, so we’ve already covered the basics – to make a hands free call, tell your phone you want to make a call. You can tell your phone to call a specific contact (“call Dr. Leo Spaceman,” “call mom”) or dial a specific number (“call 800-555-1234”). If you have multiple numbers for a contact in your phone, you can specify which you’d like to call: “call mom mobile” or “call mom home.” Easy!

Sending a text via voice command on iOS

Send a text

If you tell your phone to text a contact, it will follow up step-by-step by asking who and what you’d like to text. Or, you can just get it all out at once by saying, “text Dan, Did the contractor arrive yet?” Don’t worry if you flub a word or two – you’ll be able to correct your message if you mess something up (or if your phone mishears). You can add punctuation to your text by dictating it – just say “comma,” “period,” “exclamation mark” and the like when you want one entered into your message.

Send an email

Sending an email is simple, too – just tell your phone you’d like to send an email. It will follow up by prompting you for the recipient, subject and body in a step-by-step manner. Or, to save some time, give all the information to your phone at once: “email Anne, subject: Meeting, message: Can we reschedule our meeting for 3PM?” Note that for this to work smoothly, you’ll need to save people’s email addresses in your phone’s contacts.

Set a timer/alarm

Once you learn to set timers on your phone, you’ll never burn the roast again. Just tell your phone to “set a timer for 20 minutes,” and the countdown will start immediately. Or, you can request to set an alarm for a specific time in the next 24 hours instead – say “set alarm for 1PM.” If you’d like to set an alert further in the future than that, you’ll need to set it up as a reminder instead.

Google Now reminder

Set a reminder based on place or time

Want your phone to remind you to call your mother when you get home from work? You can tell your phone to “add reminder to call mom when I get home” and it’ll add the item to your list. The reminder will trigger for any address you have set up in your address book, including your home address. You can also add a specific date and time to the reminder – “add reminder to buy milk tomorrow at 5PM.”

Schedule a calendar entry

You can add an event to your calendar simply by giving your phone information about it. Say, “schedule meeting with Anne for 3PM” or “add trip to Canada to calendar for June 18 at 8AM” and your phone will know what to do. If you don’t provide enough information, as always, your phone will prompt you for more.

Launch an app

Don’t know where you misplaced your favorite app, or simply want to launch Google Maps without searching for it? Just tell your phone to “launch [app name here],” and your phone will quickly obey.

Siri Voice Activated sports score (NJ Devils)

Get sports scores and stats

Are you out and about, missing the game? Just ask your phone how it’s going – for example, “what’s the New Jersey Devils’ score” – and it’ll tell you the results of the current or most recent game. (Good news! They won 3 to 1 on Saturday!) You can also ask for statistics like “what’s the New Jersey Devils’ record?” or “how many passing yards did Tom Brady have last season?”

Play music

To play a song that you’ve downloaded to your phone, just ask your device to play it, e.g., “play Edge of Seventeen.” You can also request your phone play a specific artist, album or playlist by name.

ID a song that’s playing

Have you ever wanted to know the name of a great new song playing over the radio or the speakers at the gym? Simply ask your phone “What’s this song?” and point the receiver end toward the source. If the song is loud and clear enough for your phone to hear, it’ll be able to identify its name, artist and more.

Get movie show times

You can ask your phone, “what movies are playing near me tomorrow at 2PM?” to get a list of films, parental guidance ratings, reviews and times that meet your query at nearby theaters. You can also search for specific movies, specific actors or simply for “best rated movies playing near me.”

Post to social media

If you’ve chosen to integrate your phone with your Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus accounts, it’s an absolute breeze to post to social media via voice commands. Just tell your phone to “post to Facebook” and then the message you’d like to share as a status update. You can even ask your phone to tell you what’s trending on Twitter.

Voice activated weather forecast on iOS

Check the weather conditions anywhere

If you request the weather forecast, your phone will tell you current and future conditions based on your current GPS location. Or, you can ask how the weather is in Las Vegas, Paris, or Istanbul. And if you’re as worried about the next cold snap and snowfall as those of us in the Northeast are, you can ask your phone “Is snow in the forecast for this week?” or “Is it windy right now?”

Search the web

Sure, you already know to get all your technology news and reviews here on Techlicious. But if you need to access content elsewhere on the web, just ask Siri or Google to perform a web search for you. “Search the web for delicious candy,” Siri! Hurry! I’m hungry.

Get the answer to virtually any question

Who’s the governor of Utah? How tall is the Statue of Liberty? How many inches are in 20 centimeters? Your phone can answer all these fact-based queries and more – all you need to do is ask your question in plain English. If your phone can’t determine the exact answer, it will search the web for you to help find an answer. You can even ask, “What does the Fox say?” This is a really powerful feature, so give it a try!

This article originally appeared on Techlicious.

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TIME How-To

How to Email Like Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton
Adam Berry—Getty Images Hillary Rodham Clinton, former United States Secretary of State, U.S. Senator, and First Lady of the United States, speaks during the presentation of the German translation of her book 'Hard Choices' ('Entscheidungen' in German) at the Staatsoper in the Schiller Theater on July 6, 2014 in Berlin, Germany.

Many people have at least two email addresses: There’s the one you get for work, then there’s the one you use for personal business. And you might even have one to give all the companies who will send you junk mail until the world ends.

But these accounts don’t physically exist in your office, home, or city dump, respectively. They’re typically off someplace in the cloud — unless, like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, you decide to host your own email service in your home. While heading up Foggy Bottom, the potential presidential hopeful exclusively used an email server registered to her home in Chappaqua, New York, according to the Associated Press and New York Times.

The situation has quickly became problematic for Clinton. Public officials are supposed to be archiving their correspondence under open records rules, so the revelations have raised questions over why Clinton opted to use a private email setup rather than the State Department’s service.

While Clinton’s move to use a private email solution might seem like an unusual choice, it’s technologically easy enough for most people to set one up — check out this explainer from Ars Technica for the wonky details. But few people bother with a private email server. Why not?

“The big caveat is that you must know what you’re doing in terms of setting it up securely, and that’s a fairly difficult, non-trivial problem for most people,” says Katie Moussouris, chief policy officer for San Francisco-based HackerOne, a company that works with friendly hackers to help organizations like Yahoo, Twitter, and even government agencies detect vulnerabilities in their own technology.

 

An outgoing email generally follows this route: It’s stored in a server, sent by a client (software ranging from Microsoft Outlook on your computer to the Mail app on your smartphone), and traverses various networks en route to its destination, where it’s received by the recipient’s client and stored by their email server. (And vice versa for incoming email.) Setting up your own email service lets you control the two closest parts of this path — your local server and client. That can help make your data safer, especially if you encrypt the data stored on your server and the messages you send.

But doing all this still means three-fifths of your email’s path runs through areas over which you have no control. In fact, the only way that emails sent to or from Clinton’s account would remain truly secure would be if they went to or came from accounts that were similarly locked down. Then “you would have all of the infrastructure under your direct control,” says Moussouris, who has more than 15 years experience in Internet security and has also worked as a hacker-for-hire.

Despite these security holes, there are still reasons that a person would want to set up their own email service. As that Ars explainer points out, if your email is hosted in the cloud —say, by Gmail — “it’s not yours.” If you control the servers, you own the content — though governmental policies surrounding transparency and police search and seizure rules certainly weigh in here.

But most people aren’t trying to protect sensitive State Department data. Instead, one reason people run their own email services is so they can use their own domain name in their email address. If this was a reason for Clinton, it was a foolhardy one, argues Moussouris. If being a high-value target for hackers is a reason for using an (allegedly) more secure private email service, choosing an domain name like clintonemail.com, as Clinton did, only gave her a higher profile.

“Such an obvious name would make it an interesting target for a hacker,” says Moussouris. “People with that high of a profile, whether it’s a politician, celebrity, or high-level executive, they should already be operating with that in mind.”

Besides, consumer-based services not only allow users to use their own domain name while hosting their emails in the cloud, they also provide end-to-end encryption, ensuring that their messages stay safe while traveling through the web.

But if you still want to email like Hillary Clinton, Moussouris recommends relying on an expert — if you can find one. “Qualified security people are very rare,” she says. And that’s one of the problems with this setup for Clinton.

“I couldn’t imagine a top-notch security person going to work for anyone in Washington, let alone an individual in, essentially, a non-technical function,” Moussouris says. “We have a scarcity of talent in the security industry, and we see this when we try to hire good people all the time.”

As a result, Moussouris assumes whoever set up Clinton’s private email server was a staffer, unless they were very well paid. And if that’s the case, the best way to email like Hillary Clinton is to spend a lot of money.

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