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Burger King is hijacking Google Homes with a new ad

(BUSINESS NEWS) Burger King is trying to hijack everyone’s Google Home and is failing pretty miserably.

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Google home hostage

Devices like Google Home are supposed to be convenient, to make your everyday personal and professional life more seamless and productive.

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Burger King thought they’d make life even easier for you by taking away that whole free will thing (so much work, right?) and activating your Google Home for you.

Just no

The fast food chain aired a commercial recently that was designed to take advantage of Google Home’s voice activation to extend the 15 second spot to a good 30 seconds at no extra cost to the King (except those pesky conscience pangs, and the PR nightmare currently brewing . . . other than that it was a great idea).

The commercial begins with a subject of the King spending nearly 15 seconds saying he doesn’t have enough time to tell you about how great the Whopper is.

Cool story. Then he busts out with this dirty trick: “Okay Google, what is the Whopper burger?”

Science time

If the commercial plays in an area near a Google Home device, everyone in the vicinity will be treated to a dramatic reading of the Wikipedia entry for the Whopper.

It’s akin to a brand representative walking into your home uninvited and changing the channel on your TV to a commercial for their product.

We at the AG did some investigating, and it seems that Google quickly shut down the effectiveness of the ad.

Data collection

We first tested to make sure our device wasn’t calibrated to a certain person’s voice. A parade of staffers got to say “Okay, Google” for science, and our hypothesis was correct: Google Home doesn’t care who’s talking to it – it loves the attention.

But when we played the ad for our smart friend, it listened (the light came on) but did not answer the sneaky Burger King invader.

If you for some reason want to ask your device what a Whopper is, however, it should work fine – it listens to our voices with no problem.
We then tested the devious ad on several Android phones, two Android tablets, and three Android smartwatches, all with the Google Assistant, which is also activated by the phrase “Okay, Google.”

Finding: our devices can’t be fooled.

They don’t trust commercial guy’s voice.

What about the whole recording factor, you ask?

We checked on that too. We’re all about that scientific method. We recorded our voices saying the exact same phrase: “Okay, Google, what is the Whopper Burger?”

Finding: Google Home answered our recorded question like a champ.

Conclusion: Google deliberately blocked the voice of this one actor saying this one phrase so that homes and offices everywhere couldn’t be infiltrated by the King.

Back off BK

Think about it: devices like Google Home, Amazon Echo’s Alexa, and Microsoft’s Cortana are all about autonomy and control. We ask them stuff, they answer. We tell them to do stuff, they do it. We’re supposed to be in charge. No one’s going to enjoy it if someone or something which is not them starts messing with their stuff.

Hopefully this is a one time stunt, and Burger King, along with any other company that might be thinking about more dirty tricks, will realize that literally no one will enjoy a commercial that’s also a remote control for their devices.

#HaveItYourWay

Staff Writer, Natalie Bradford earned her B.A. in English from Cornell University and spends a lot of time convincing herself not to bake MORE brownies. She enjoys cats, cocktails, and good films - preferably together. She is currently working on a collection of short stories.

Business News

This web platform for cannabis is blowing up online distribution

(BUSINESS NEWS) Dutchie, a website platform for cannabis companies, just octupled in value. Here’s what that means for the online growth of cannabis distribution.

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A small jar of cannabis on a desk with notebooks, sold online in a nicely made jar.

The cannabis industry has, for the most part, blossomed in the past few years, managing to hit only a few major snags along the way. One of those snags is the issue of payment processing, an issue compounded by predominantly cash-only transactions. Dutchie, a Bend, Oregon company, has helped mitigate that issue—and it just raised a ton of money.

Technically, Dutchie is a jack-of-all-trades service that creates and hosts websites for dispensaries, tracks product, processes orders, keeps stock of revenue, and so much more. While it was valued at around $200 million as recently as summer of 2020, a round of series C funding currently puts the company at around $1.7 billion—approximately 8 times its worth a mere 8 months ago.

There are a few reasons behind Dutchie’s newfound momentum. For starters, the pandemic made cannabis products a lot more accessible—and desirable—in states in which the sale of cannabis is legal. The ensuing surge of customers and demand certainly didn’t hurt the platform, especially given that Dutchie is largely responsible for keeping things on track during some of the more chaotic months for dispensaries.

Several states in which the sale of cannabis was illegal also voted to legalize recreational use, giving Dutchie even more stomping ground than they had prior to the lockdown.

Dutchie also recently took on 2 separate companies and their associated employees, effectively doubling their current staff. The companies are Greenbits—a resource planning group—and Leaflogix, which is a point-of-sale platform. With these two additions to their compendium, Dutchie can operate as even more of an all-in-one suite, which absolutely contributes to its value as a company.

Ross Lipson, who is Dutchie’s co-founder and current CEO, is fairly dismissive of investment opportunities for the public at the moment, saying he instead prefers to stay “focused with what’s on our plate” for the time being. However, he also appears open to the possibility of going public via an acquisition company.

“We look at how this decision brings value to the dispensary and the customer,” says Lipson. “If it brings value, we’d embark on that decision.”

For now, Dutchie remains the ipso facto king of cannabis distribution and sales—and they don’t show any plans to slow down any time soon.

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Business News

Ford adopts flexible working from home schedule for over 30k employees

(BUSINESS NEWS) Ford Motor Co. is allowing employees to continue working from home even after the pandemic winds down. Is this the beginning of a trend for auto companies?

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Woman in car working on engineering now allowed a flexible schedule for working from home.

The pandemic has greatly transformed our lives. For the most part, learning is being conducted online. At one point, interacting with others was pretty much non-existent. Working in the office shifted significantly to working remotely, and it seems like working from home might not go away anytime soon.

As things slowly get back to a new “normal”, will things change again? Well, one thing is sure. Working from home will be a permanent thing for some people as more companies opt to continue letting people work remotely.

And, the most recent company on the list to do this is Ford Motor Co. Even after the pandemic winds down, Ford will allow more than 30,000 employees already working from home to continue doing so.

Last week, the automaker giant announced its “flexible hybrid model” schedule to its staff. The new schedule is set to start in the summer, and employees can choose to work remotely and come into the office for tasks that require face-to-face collaborations, such as meetings and group projects.

How much time an employee spends in the office will depend on their responsibilities, and flexible remote hours will need to be approved by an employee’s manager.

“The nature of work drives whether or not you can adopt this model. There are certain jobs that are place-dependent — you need to be in the physical space to do the job,” David Dubensky, chairman and chief executive of Ford Land, told the Washington Post. “Having the flexibility to choose how you work is pretty powerful. … It’s up to the employee to have dialogue and discussion with their people leader to determine what works best.”

Ford’s decision to implement a remote-office work model has to do in part with an employee survey conducted in June 2020. Results from the survey showed that 95% of employees wanted a hybrid schedule. Some employees even reported feeling more productive when working from home.

Ford is the first auto company to allow employees to work from home indefinitely, but it might not be the only one. According to the Post, Toyota and General Motors are looking at flexible options of their own.

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Business News

Unify your remote team with these important conversations

(BUSINESS NEWS) More than a happy hour, consider having these poignant conversations to bring your remote team together like never before.

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Woman working in office with remote team

Cultivating a team dynamic is difficult enough without everyone’s Zoom feed freezing halfway through “happy” hour. You may not be able to bond over margaritas these days, but there are a few conversations you can have to make your team feel more supported—and more comfortable with communicating.

According to Forbes, the first conversation to have pertains to individual productivity. Ask your employees, quite simply, what their productivity indicators are. Since you can’t rely on popping into the office to see who is working on a project and who is beating their Snake score, knowing how your employees quantify productivity is the next-best thing. This may lead to a conversation about what you want to see in return, which is always helpful for your employees to know.

Another thing to discuss with your employees regards communication. Determining which avenues of communication are appropriate, which ones should be reserved for emergencies, and which ones are completely off the table is key. For example, you might find that most employees are comfortable texting each other while you prefer Slack or email updates. Setting that boundary ahead of time and making it “office” policy will help prevent strain down the road.

Finally, checking in with your employees about their expectations is also important. If you can discuss the sticky issue of who deals with what, whose job responsibilities overlap, and what each person is predominantly responsible for, you’ll negate a lot of stress later. Knowing exactly which of your employees specialize in specific areas is good for you, and it’s good for the team as a whole.

With these 3 discussions out of the way, you can turn your focus to more nebulous concepts, the first of which pertains to hiring. Loop your employees in and ask them how they would hire new talent during this time; what aspects would they look for, and how would they discern between candidates without being able to meet in-person? It may seem like a trivial conversation, but having it will serve to unify further your team—so it’s worth your time.

The last crucial conversation, per Forbes, is simple: Ask your employees what they would prioritize if they became CEOs tomorrow. There’s a lot of latitude for goofy responses here, but you’ll hear some really valuable—and potentially gut-wrenching—feedback you wouldn’t usually receive. It never hurts to know what your staff prioritize as idealists.

Unifying your staff can be difficult, but if you start with these conversations, you’ll be well on your way to a strong team during these trying times.

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