The Commercial That Stole The Show On Football’s Biggest Night


It’s quite evident that football’s biggest night is the perfect opportunity for companies to persuade all who are watching to utilize/buy their products through the use of captivating commercials. In saying that, this year’s Superbowl had commercials that ranged from happy, to humorous, to serious/emotional, to completely strange and seemingly pointless.

To get a professional opinion on these commercials, KDKA sat down with Shannon Baker–the president of a local ad agency to get her opinion on which spots were the winners and the losers on football’s biggest night. Baker is president of the Gatesman Agency in Pittsburgh and has 18 years of experience in the ad business (so she knows a good bit about how companies and clients can accurately convey a message that resonates with audiences and further persuades them to either adopt an idea, utilize a software, or buy a product.)

According to Baker, she believes that if you craft a story that is short, tight, and memorable, it is going to make people feel something–which is critical to the success of the commercial.

She says Google set the bar very high with its emotional “Loretta” ad, and many others would agree. Millions of people were raving about the heartfelt tearjerking ad that was based on a true story. For those who didn’t get to see the commercial, it begins with a man typing into Google “how to not forget,” and then asking his Google Assistant device to show him photos of his late wife named Loretta. The man continues to ask Google to remember certain things about her, like the fact that she hated his mustache, loved going to Alaska, and always snorted when she laughed. In the end, Google recites all of the things the man had asked the device to remember. It closed out with the man saying, “remember I’m the luckiest man in the world.”

Overall, Baker and many others believe that Google set the bar very high with their ‘Loretta’ ad because not only did it tug on the emotional heartstrings of audiences, but it also marketed the product in a simple yet compelling way.


Pittsburgh Ad Agency Says Which Super Bowl Commercials Were The Most And Least Impressive


The Teens Who Hacked Microsoft’s Xbox Empire – And Went Too Far

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This article tells the story of a young man named David Pokora, a student at the University of Toronto who had a fascination for the inner workings of videogames, and mostly for the Xbox. Throughout his elementary school years, Pokora mastered the world of gaming and started to learn coding, which enabled him to do high level hacking at a very young age and pulling him into online hacking communities that were redefining what game consoles could do. He even managed to buy a development motherboard from a Wells Fargo tech manager in California, which allowed him to continue hacking Xbox systems as developers got rid of security flaws present in previous generations of consoles.

As Pokora and his circle of friends in Canada grew stronger in their hacking skills, they started stealing beta versions of unreleased software, angering the pros behind game development from who they started receiving messages of both anger and praise. Pokora’s actions, in his own perspective, were all in good will and just for fun. They involved tweaking codes here and there in order to modify small things one can do inside a game, like making characters jump into the clouds, fire different projectiles, and turn blue skies into rain. When he started selling hacks to gamers on Xbox live around 2009, he forgot about his commitment to fairness and started making thousands of dollars by providing gamers with hacks that could, for example, make Call of Duty soldiers fly, walk through walls, and sprint at abnormal speeds. With around $8,000 flowing in from paying customers on a busy night of gaming, Pokora had to hire employees to administer the madness of selling hacks.

Things started to get a more intense as Pokora partnered with another Australian gamer who lured him into invading the most private data of Epic, a North Carolina game development company. While reading Epic’s emails, they found out about an FBI investigation that was being launched on how their security had been breached and game software stolen. The investigation, however, quickly died down and the hackers thought they had gotten away with their first encounter with the law.

After other situations involving crimes such as breaking into the Microsoft headquarters and counterfeiting an Xbox prototype, Pokora and his friends ended up waist deep in secret investigations involving their names, which they did not know about until officials arrested them.

Pokora, after spending the entire winter of 2014 on his usual routine of hacking Xbox games, decided to take a trip down to Delaware to pick up a bumper he’d ordered online for his car. He brought his father to take turns behind the wheel as they did not plan to pay for any lodging in the U.S. and wanted to get in and out as quickly as possible. “There is a chance I might get arrested,” Pokora jokingly told his father as they left Toronto. As they crossed the border, he was detained and held in a private prison in Ohio until his court date, and was later sentenced to 18 months in prison for wire fraud, identity theft, and conspiracy to steal trade secrets. The people who worked with him over the span of five years also got their share legal predicaments. Nathan Leroux, the high school kid from Indiana who helped Pokora build the counterfeit prototype, faced 23 months in prison and escaped his house-arrest in the United States while awaiting trial, paying a friend to smuggle him into Canada. When officials surrounded him while trying to run across the bridge into Canadian soil, he pulled out a knife and stabbed himself multiple times.

All the people involved in these hacking cases have now left prison and returned to normal life at various levels of success. Pokora re enrolled at the University of Toronto upon his return to Canada. “Pokora still struggles to understand how his love for programming warped into an obsession that knocked his moral compass so far askew. “As much as I consciously made the decisions I did, I never meant for it to get as bad as it did,” he says. “I mean, I wanted access to companies to read some source code, I wanted to learn, I wanted to see how far it could go—that was it. It was really just intellectual curiosity. I didn’t want money—if I wanted money, I would’ve taken all the money that was there. But, I mean, I get it—what it turned into, it’s regrettable.””

Three Years of Misery Inside Google: The Happiest Company in Tech

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WIRED spoke with 47 current and former Google employees and put together a groundbreaking report on the hardships and obstacles the company has been facing since the 2016 election. The article presents us with an amazing amount of information that condemns Google’s internal practices in relation to the privacy of their employees, shining a light on the reality that not everyone working at the Silicon Valley tech giant abides to the integrity rules. Readers will learn about the “period of growing distrust and disillusionment inside Google that echoed the fury roaring outside the company’s walls,” reflecting the rapid growth of conservative right-wing politics we have been witnessing over the past few years. 

Google hosts many meetings with their employees that are specifically designed for them to openly discuss and oftentimes challenge executive decisions. It was in one of those meetings that James Damore heard about the idea of providing more job interviews and a more welcoming environment to female and underrepresented minority candidates that did not form a high percentage in the company’s demographics. For many people, including Damore, this idea went against its said purpose of inclusion and Google’s meritocratic hiring process, therefore ‘lowering the bar’ on hiring and showing discrimination toward men. He proceeded to write what later became a famous 10-page memo elaborating on his anti-diversity reasoning. After much pressure from other employees, executives decided to fire him due to his blatant attack on the company’s core principles.

The firing of Damore caused a huge commotion inside the company among conservatives that did not agree with the decision, and who decided to attack their co-workers by leaking information from Google’s hundreds of discussion forums. On a pro-Trump subreddit, a collage appeared that showed the full names, profile pictures, and Twitter bios of eight Google employees, most of them queer, transgender, or people of color. Each bio featured phrases that would make the employees instant targets for harassment: “polyamorous queer autistic trans lesbian” and “just another gay communist site reliability engineer.” Days after Damore was fired, a former tech editor at Breitbart shared the Reddit collage image with 2 million Facebook followers. “Look at who works for Google, it all makes sense now,” he wrote, as if these eight employees had been the ones who made the decision to fire Damore.

There have been many other instances in which Googlers were being named personally and started being publicly attacked for things they said in private company forums. The situation only got worse when it became clear that leakers were protected from being prosecuted by “protected concerted activity” and would not suffer any consequences even if they were discovered. The article was extremely interesting to read since it provided information about the inner workings of a tech giant and how typical principles of freedom of expression and Google’s famous “obligation to dissent” concept turned against them when they started being attacked from the inside. The company has been fighting a dirty war on the issue of diversity since the 2016 election. As WIRED wrote, “Googlers on both sides of the battle lines had become adept at working the refs—baiting colleagues into saying things that might violate the company’s code of conduct, then going to human resources to report them. But Googlers on the right were going further, broadcasting snippets of the company’s uncensored brawls to the world, and setting up their colleagues for harassment.”

Google Search Integrates Links To Specific Moments In Online Video


Google, who has been one of the main drivers behind the constantly changing methods to search engines, announced Sunday that they will be implementing a big change when it comes to searching for information online. Google Search will now allow users to have access to links that will bring them to specific moments in videos that match what they typed in the search bar. Essentially, Google’s search engine will be able to give online users the power to scan and find the exact moments in videos that addresses what they typed in.

Innovation such as this has left many individuals shocked and excited to try it out for themselves. Before, Google’s search engines were only capable of displaying links to entire videos that matched what was entered in the search bar. By allowing users to access specific moments in videos that relate to their searches, Google employees believe individuals will be able to save countless amounts of time when browsing the web.

“People can now search for content and scan a video to determine whether a video has specific content. This change also makes video content more accessible for those using screen readers” (Laurie Sullivan).

According to an updated forecast released by Publicis Media, time spent watching online video is expected to expand more than 20% in the next two years reaching a peak average of 100 minutes daily. Google appears to be recognizing this trend and moving towards making video content much more accessible and easy to find for all of its users.

YouTube creators have also been working in parallel with this innovation movement in search engines by having the ability to add time-stamp information to link important areas/points in the description section of their videos. Google’s new search technology will be able to recognize the text and time-stamp YouTube creators have put in their description therefore bringing users to that specific point in the video.

This is just another clear example of the increasing processing power and ability of online search engines that we use every single day. Clearly, there is a large amount of benefit from these improvements such as researchers being able to find specific video content they are looking for much easier or even marketers gaining the ability to show users their important content in different points of videos. Yet, I believe a critical eye/analysis should be cast on these changes to consider the consequences that may come. With online users expecting to increase as well as the time spent on these platforms, “internet addiction” could spike drastically. Our generation is moving towards this kind of hyper-reality where the power to access information and data through stronger technology is rising. At what point will this ability be too much or rather too dangerous in a sense? Technology will never stop improving so we must be prepared for the pros and cons that will most certainly come with it.