Weight Watchers' App Isn't Working And People Are Furious

A technical upgrade caused the popular food- and activity-tracking app and website to go glitchy on Thanksgiving, of all days.

Jennifer Hudson speaks at the opening of The Weight Watchers Jennifer Hudson Center in 2011 in Chicago.

M. Spencer Green / AP

Weight Watchers has a loyal digital following: About 1.5 million people pay to use the weight-loss program's website and app. And on Thursday — Thanksgiving — the company introduced an upgrade that included a new design and streamlined features.

But the website and app have since been glitchy to the point of being unusable, according to customers who are unhappy that the service went down during arguably the most food-centric time of year.

Users normally log their food and exercise in the program, which then calculates points (rather than calories) and tells people how many points they've used on a given day and how many they have left. Amber Kowalski, a 25-year-old from Fishkill, New York, who's been a paying subscriber at $45 a month since March, told BuzzFeed News that the app has been deleting her entries, recording them multiple times, or entering them incorrectly.

"I literally depend on it for everything," Kowalski said. "Anything that goes in my mouth or I think about eating, I do. When you're doing this it literally is a lifestyle change and you need to depend on this. The biggest thing that people are upset about is it's the holiday season. Thanksgiving is when it was down — that's one of the biggest times of the year. It's not good for someone trying to diet or eat better, and you couldn't even keep track of what you're eating."

Via Facebook: weightwatchers


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Buying A Hoverboard Is Harder Than You'd Think—These People Want To Change That

Steve Jennings / Getty Images

If you’re in the market for a hoverboard these days, you’re unlikely to have much luck with America’s biggest retailers, none of whom are carrying the self-balancing scooters in their stores. Instead, you might end up doing business with a Swedish teenager.

Gustav Lundin, a 16-year-old student in Sweden, sells the devices online at $550 each, from a base of operations in his parents' garage.

Lundin lives in the small city of Gävle, about two hours' drive north of Stockholm, and controls only the tiniest sliver of the global hoverboard market. But his little website, Astowheels.com (tagline: "One Step Ahead"), resembles countless others that enterprising souls have set up through the e-commerce platform Shopify. In the absence of dominant brands being pushed by major retailers, the hoverboard business has become a massive cottage industry — and a massively fragmented one.

The boards themselves have become something close to a commodity, made in roughly identical fashion by numerous Chinese factories. The white-label products are resold by middlemen large and small, under the kind of dinky, half-baked brands you would associate with a pop-up stall selling cheap mobile phone covers in a suburban mall. Basic computer skills and enough cash to place a bulk order with a manufacturer or distributor is all you need to become an online hoverboard merchant. That, and a fair amount of gumption.

Lundin has plenty of that. The teen has been wheeling and dealing since he was a kid, when he sold four-leaf clovers. He moved on to selling e-cigarettes and mobile chargers. "I would rather do business than go to school,” he told BuzzFeed News. "When I come home from school, I do business. When I wake up, I do business. On the weekend, I do business."

"I want to get the biggest hoverboard store out there," he said. "I want to be the top one."

Ethan Miller / Getty Images

Fifteen years ago, it was a different two-wheeled novelty that captured the nation’s attention.

The Razor scooter, introduced to the U.S. in 2000, sold more than five million units in its first year, and by 2010, it had sold 35 million. There’s little reliable data on hoverboard sales, but it’s safe to assume they are far from Razor territory. And one big reason why, according to the Razor founder, is that the company had unambiguous patents covering the scooter, and quickly crushed the imitators and black-market brands with a flurry of lawsuits.

“When something is this popular, there’s a lot of people who immediately make it regardless of the patent and don't care about patents at all,” said Carlton Calvin, who remains president of Razor USA after co-founding the company more than a decade ago. “We had a huge problem with that when we first began too.” According to Calvin, Razor USA sued more than 20 sellers of copycat scooters and received injunctions against them in the early 2000s.

“It makes it more difficult, for sure, for the market to develop when there’s a lot of controversy about the patents,” he said. “In our case, it was very clear we had the patent. One of my advantages is I was a lawyer before I was a businessperson, and my wife was a lawyer. We used her firm to do the litigation. We were able to do it very quickly and we were very familiar with the process.”

For now, nobody has managed to do with hoverboards what Razor did with scooters. (To be fair, Razor scooters were a lot cheaper at $100 a pop.) There’s no single dominant brand, no dominant owner of intellectual property rights, and nobody with a sales channel that reaches into Main Street stores across the country.

But the latest entrant to the market has 15 years of experience doing just that. That’s because Razor USA is getting into the hoverboard business.

In mid-November, BuzzFeed News reported the company has purchased exclusive rights to a patent by inventor Shane Chen for a “two-wheel, self-balancing personal vehicle” that he has been selling under the Hovertrax brand name. Chen’s patent has yet to be tested against competitors selling their own brands in the U.S., but Razor has the resources and know-how to get its product into the market in a big way — and take on competitors selling knockoffs.

Razor declined to comment on specific legal actions, but its vice president of marketing told BuzzFeed News “it’s fair to say that Razor always enforces its intellectual property rights. As the exclusive licensee, we would expect to do the same with the Hovertrax.” The company expects its hoverboard to be on sale at major retailers' websites by the second week of December, though didn't say if it would make it into stores.

The company is already well aware of the potential market for two-wheeled electric people movers. It has sold tens of millions of its signature scooter over the last decade and a half, and in recent years, its sales of electric scooters have taken off.

“We sell so many I don’t even want to say the number because I don’t want other people to do it,” Calvin said in an interview before the Hovertrax acquisition. “That has been growing steadily for probably 10 years but again, exploded maybe five or six years ago. It’s much bigger than the non-powered scooters.”

While Razor has the experience in rolling out a dominant two-wheeled device, it rose to the top of the market back in the early 2000s, when e-commerce was still in its infancy, social media didn’t exist, and old-school retail techniques still ruled the business. Calvin is aware that things have changed since the scooters burst into the public consciousness.

“The concept of the internet was big but the actual people buying on the internet was not nearly what it is today,” he said. “The only way to sell things was with retailers, basically. I’m sure there were internet people too, but we were really focused on retail distribution and stopping counterfeiters and people violating our patents in retail.”

As the patent situation slowly untangles itself, the country’s biggest retailers are keeping themselves at arm's distance from the market. Toys R Us confirmed to BuzzFeed News that it will sell self-balancing scooters online in time for the holiday season and perhaps in select stores, while Walmart recently reneged on its plans to carry the device online for the holidays.

The about-face of the world’s biggest retailer underscores how splintered the market is: Walmart said in September that it expected self-balancing scooters to be a “hot holiday gift,” even “as hot as the Razor scooter.” One month later, it said it “probably won’t have it for the holiday season.” When asked if the decision was related to the patent battle, a spokesperson said: “I wouldn’t peg it to that. That’s one of the factors of course, but we’re looking at all the factors. There are myriad factors that go into a decision like this.”

Brookstone, a store whose entire brand seems built to embrace the blue LED lights and half-baked futurism of the hoverboard, briefly sold the IO Hawk model online, but has since pulled the item from its website and taken down a promotional video. A few steps away from a Brookstone store in downtown San Francisco’s Westfield Mall, a kiosk now has hoverboards on proud display under a different brand: Smart Drifterz. (A Brookstone store manager told BuzzFeed News that the thorny legal situation around the hoverboards factored into the company’s decision, though requests for official comment were not returned.)

Target exhibited some of the retail disarray around hoverboards in an exchange with BuzzFeed News. On Oct. 19, an external spokesperson for the company confirmed Target will sell a version of the board on Cyber Monday, online only. The next day, she said “there’s a change in direction — Target will not be offering a hoverboard this holiday season.” A few hours later, an internal spokesperson followed up to say: “We’re still working through plans and looking to carry them online. Just nothing concrete to share at this point.” On Nov. 13, the company said it will carry the $500 self-balancing Swagway board on its website, where it’s available now.

“This is a hot item for the holiday season and we needed to find a vendor that could provide us with adequate inventory,” a spokesperson said in an email.

RadioShack said it will not be carrying the hoverboard this season while Best Buy, as of Oct. 21, didn’t have any idea as to whether or not it will be selling the product.

Consumers are better served online where sites like eBay and Amazon have page after page of hoverboard listings. An eBay spokesperson said a hoverboard is sold once per minute on the site, which has more than 10,000 hoverboard listings going into the holiday shopping season.

eBay / Via ebay.com

Although the big stores are staying out of the fray, the opacity of the market means mom-and-pop stores are also struggling to get a piece of the action. One store that started carrying hoverboards this summer, when the craze was just taking off, was Flying Point, a small chain of surf shops in the Hamptons on New York's Long Island. The devices generated considerable buzz among the affluent vacationers in Sag Harbor and other upscale towns. "I saw these kids flying down the streets on them," said Jamison Ernest, a venture capitalist in New York. "It looked amazing."

But selling them was another matter.

Flying Point purchased its hoverboards from a Kansas City, Missouri, company called MonoRover, which in turn bought them from a factory in southern China. But Molly Lucas, who manages a Flying Point location in Southampton, soon discovered she was being undersold by her own supplier. While Flying Point sold the hoverboards for $850 in its stores — at a markup that Lucas said left her with only a thin profit — MonoRover was selling the same devices on its own website for just $599.

Customers noticed. "I feel like a complete asshole when someone's like, 'Well, I can get it online for $200 cheaper,'" Lucas said. "In this day and age where you can buy everything online, we price-match everything. But we can't with this."

MonoRover's president, Lucas Assenmacher, said he recommended that distributors sell the hoverboards for a minimum of $599. At that price, he said, distributors like Flying Point could still earn a "fair margin."

Still, Molly Lucas said, selling the hoverboards was "nothing but a pain in the ass.”

Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

Selling hoverboards may be a pain in the ass, but wait until you fall off one. Social media is littered with evidence of disastrous tumbles, and in the kind of freewheeling tech and creative-industry offices where the boards have become a favored gadgets, tales of epic crashes are widespread.

Some, including Razor USA’s Carlton Calvin, say hoverboards remind them in some ways of Heelys, the shoes with built-in roller skates in their heels, which became ragingly popular among 6- to 14-year-olds in the mid-2000s. The company is a cautionary tale for trendy wheeled gadgets that look cool but lead to a lot of people hurting themselves.

Heelys went public at the end of 2006, at the height of the brand’s popularity. The company was pulling in close to $200 million in annual sales at the time, and was valued at more than $1 billion.

But it never got to $200 million in sales. After another strong year, its revenue began evaporating at a startling pace as injuries mounted and the trend faded. Accidents involving roller shoes led to about 1,600 emergency room visits in 2006, the Associated Press reported.

The company, which hinged its success entirely on wheeled shoes, desperately sought to diversify into non-wheeled footwear and was confident enough in its ability to turn itself around that it rejected a $143 million takeover offer from Skechers in 2008 as "inadequate."

Ultimately, Heelys’ revenue dwindled down to around $30 million a year in 2011 — the next year, it agreed to be purchased by Sequential Brands for about $63 million. Have you seen many kids wearing Heelys lately?

If hoverboards ultimately end up looking more like the briefly trendy wheeled shoes than the durably popular Razor scooter, it might be because they're simply not safe. Ernest, the New York venture capitalist, said he was initially excited by the prospects for the industry, but hasn't considered any investments in the field due to the risk of injury liabilities.

He knows the risk firsthand. Trying out a hoverboard at a friend's house, he took a hard fall onto a tile floor, fracturing his wrist.

instagram.com

The hoverboard industry, Ernest said, "is going to have tremendous liabilities as soon as somebody really cracks their skull open or gets killed on one." Police departments around the world have begun reminding the public that in many jurisdictions — including New York, London, and Sydney — riding a hoverboard on public footpaths or roads is illegal.

“I don’t want to be the Christmas Grinch, but I want people to know and send a message that these new toys have real safety concerns,” said a statement this week by Duncan Gay, the minister for roads in New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state. “Riders endanger themselves because they’re unprotected around other vehicles.”

youtube.com

Few hoverboarders would be reckless enough to take one for a spin on a highway, and for now, indoor spaces remain the board’s most welcoming terrain. But risks remain, even on carpeted corporate floors under bright fluorescent light.

Tales of hoverboard injuries and near-misses in American offices are abundant, and disaster has struck many in the world of startups and technology. Rob Rhinehart, the founder and CEO of Soylent, ambled around Los Angeles in a medical boot earlier this year after busting his ankle falling from one of the boards.

BuzzFeed’s offices in New York and San Francisco have each hosted spectacular hoverboard crashes. In Manhattan, one author of this article went down so thoroughly that a trash can was destroyed in the process; in San Francisco, bureau chief Mat Honan introduced his ass to the floor in a manner one onlooker described as “poetic...like a cartoon man slipping on a banana peel.”

Omar Choudhry, a designer at Whipp, a startup in London, said he was thrown from his hoverboard (which he purchased from someone he met through a friend) when the battery suddenly died. He narrowly missed smashing his face into the edge of a glass table. But Yousif Al-Dujaili, Whipp’s co-founder, remains a big hoverboard fan regardless.

"It's almost like Jedi mind tricks,” he said. “Use the Force. Think about where you want to go."

Apple Music Comes To Sonos On December 15

At long last Apple Music is headed to Sonos. Making good on a promise made back in June, Sonos said Monday that Apple's new streaming music service will debut on its wireless speakers before the end of the year. Apple Music will become available as a public beta on Sonos starting December 15 with general availability to begin in early 2016.

"We're big fans of Sonos," Apple SVP of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue told BuzzFeed News. "We've been looking forward to this."

Sonos will let people access Apple Music's For You, My Music, New, and Radio — basically everything but "Connect," a social feature intended to link artists with their fans. The focus is curated streaming, which Sonos co-founder and CEO John MacFarlane says drives most of the music listening that occurs on Sonos speakers these days.

"Well over 90 percent of the music people listen to on Sonos speakers is from streaming services," MacFarlane told BuzzFeed News. "We think Apple Music is going to be a catalyst that will raise that percentage even higher. What we've found is that as Sonos owners discover streaming services like Apple Music they use the local collections they have on their home computers and cell phones less and less."

For Sonos, which has long offered a robust menu of streaming music services, the addition of Apple Music seems a no-brainer, particularly since its Beats Music predecessor had been available on Sonos since January of 2014 until it was shut down on November 30. So why wait? Why did Apple not offer Apple Music right out of the gate? "It's important to get the integration right the first time out," Cue told BuzzFeed News. "Apple has a high bar for this stuff; So does Sonos. Apple Music isn't even 6 months old yet, so this really did not take much time at all."

Sonos, which recently debuted a new flagship speaker -- the PLAY:5, as well as a very slick speaker-tuning application called Trueplay, is the latest non-Apple platform to debut Apple Music in as many months. In early November Apple brought its streaming music service to Android, the first time the company has ever offered one of its services on Google’s mobile platform.

Dead Trigger v1.9.0 MOD for Android

Dead Trigger v1.9.0 MOD for Android
Dead Trigger v1.9.0 MOD for Android - Dead Trigger merupakan game Action buatan MADFINGER Games. Dead Trigger memiliki gameplay First Person Shooter dengan control mudah, dan bisa disesuaikan. Dalam game ini, kita, dengan berbagai senjata yang dapat kita beli di dalamnya, diharuskan melawan seluruh zombie yang ada di kota. Di versi MOD ini, terdapat unlimited money dan unlimited gold yang dapat kamu gunakan untuk membeli berbagai item di dalam game.
Screenshot :

Dead Trigger v1.9.0 MOD for Android
Dead Trigger v1.9.0 MOD for Android

System Required : Android OS 2.3.3 or Higher

Download :
Notes :
  • Pilih salah satu link saja.
  • Install file apk seperti biasa.
  • Copy data ke Sdcard/android/obb.
How To Download

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CCleaner 5.12.5431 Final All Version

CCleaner 5.12.5431 Final adalah software utilities yang saya yakin kebanyakan pengguna internet di indonesia bahkan sudah mengetahui dan menggunakannya, CCleaner 5.12.5431 Final bisa membersihkan registry dan juga junk cleaner, sehingga anda bisa menjaga performa PC anda tetap dalam keadaan maksimal, dari fitur yang sangat berguna tersebut, ukuran file CCleaner 5.12.5431 Final ini sangat kecil dan tentunya tidak akan memberatkan PC anda.
 
Screenshoot:

Whats New:
  • Improved Firefox 42 Cache cleaning.
  • Improved Google Chrome Download History cleaning.
  • Improved Skip UAC on Windows 10.
  • Improved detection and cleaning of portable browsers.
  • Optimized cleaning rules loading routine.
  • Improved localization and language support.
  • Minor GUI Improvements.
  • Minor bug fixes.
Cara Aktivasi:
  • Install sampai selesai
  • Jalankan crack, kemudian pilih versi apa yang anda inginkan
  • Klik pada tombol crcak dan tunggu sampai proses cracking selesai
  • Enjooy
Download: 
Jika ada pertanyaan/request, hubungi saya di  Twitter
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These Are The Trashy Consequences Of Blue Apron Delivery

Of the many small indulgences and unbidden conveniences the current tech boom has given us, one of the most enticing might be the luxe meal-kit-in-a-box: A cardboard box of pre-packed ingredients, delivered to your door once a week or so with idiot-proof recipes included. For anyone who's come home after a long day at work to find an empty fridge and a utter unwillingness to cook or shop the appeal is obvious: A kit offers the ease of takeout, but the joy (or bragging rights) of cooking, all for the low, low price of (roughly) $10 per meal.

Indeed, the consulting firm Technomic estimates that over the next decade, the meal-kit market will become as big as a $5 billion industry. More than half a dozen venture-backed, slickly marketed companies — among them Plated, Purple Carrot, HelloFresh, ChefDay!, Chef'd, GreenChef, Din, Peach Dish, and Blue Apron — are chasing the space, all with slightly different glosses and specialties. But at three years old, Blue Apron appears to be the breakout, with a $2 billion valuation, a footprint covering the majority of the country, and monthly delivery rate north of 5 million meals a month, according to a November Forbes profile. (Blue Apron declined be interviewed for this article.)

Last week, the service offered omnivores on the two-person plan "trattoria-style cheeseburgers with crispy rosemary-garlic potatoes and aioli," "seared chicken and roasted sweet potato rounds with a chestnut and Brussels pan sauce," and "North-African spiced shrimp with dates, kale, and carrots" — all delivered to your door in pre-portioned packages, and with prep times of about 45 minutes at most. Here's what it would all look like on the table, according to the recipe cards enclosed:

And straight out of the box, this is what it looked like:

Michelle Rial / BuzzFeed News

And this is what remained, after cooking: Nine plastic baggies of varying sizes; four clamshells, also plastic; a pair of tiny containers that had held about a tablespoon of chicken demi glace and a pat of butter, respectively; a sheaf of recipes, instructions, and promotions printed on thick cardstock; the foil bag from a few tablespoons of tomato paste; three paper bags, now soggy and damp from refrigeration and condensation; a cardboard box stamped with cheerful, cartoonified cooking implements; three thick plastic meat packages; two gel-filled icepacks; and a foil bag not unlike the ones marathoners wear to keep warm. (Plus the compostable peels from three lemons and skins from a head of garlic and a purple onion.) It was, in other words, a lot of waste for three meals for two people. But that's just a mere six meals; consider Blue Apron's 5-million-meals-per-month figure, and you start to get a sense of what kind of waste it produces — to use a Silicon Valley term of art — at scale.

Michelle Rial / BuzzFeed News

Blue Apron argues that by portioning out its ingredients exactly, it helps cooks reduce the approximately 31% of post-harvest food that goes wasted in the country. That's a compelling argument on paper, and one that makes intuitive sense to anyone who's ever tried to follow a fancy recipe exactly and ended up with a partially zested lemon and seven-eighths of a head of black garlic in her fridge. (WTF, black garlic?) But it's a little harder to swallow when you're staring down a plastic bag containing about three tablespoons of all-purpose flour — a bag that's likely been shipped across the country to your doorstep.

According to that same Forbes article, Blue Apron sources its ingredients from 100 different family-run farms, and according to an August Pacific Standard report, it delivers to 85% of the country from two distribution centers nationwide — meaning that before it makes it to your doorstep, there's a decent chance your lacinato kale and premium ground beef crossed the better part of the United States in a refrigerated truck.

Blue Apron also makes a point that "all of [its] packaging material is biodegradable to recyclable" — in fact, it's stamped right on the box, under a headline saying "Eco-Friendly Packaging." And its website offers an extensive (if hard to find) guide to recycling packaging. But as Nathanael Johnson points out in a deliciously irate Grist post titled "Blue Apron, You're Just Making it Worse," all that recycling is easier said than done.

Those tiny baggies, for example, are made of low-density polyethylene, a type of plastic that is nominally recyclable, but that most cities won't accept for curbside pickup. (Mine is one of them; Blue Apron's "recycling locator" tool suggested that I walk the trash about three-quarters of a mile away to, ironically, my local grocery store.) The ice packs are only recyclable once you "let [them] thaw, cut off a corner, and empty the water-based solution into the trash," according to Blue Apron's own guidelines. The foil liner is #7 — "miscellaneous" — plastic, which, according to Earth911, "many curbside programs will not accept at all." Of course, you can always take all this stuff to your municipal waste facility, but it's hard to believe that the type of person who doesn't have time to go to the grocery store would willingly hop in the car for a weekend trip to the local recycling plant, either. Blue Apron also offers cooks the option of sending back the waste (save for "any meat or seafood packaging") — once it's been collected from at least two deliveries, and rid of food residue, carefully rinsed, and compacted.

Blue Apron does seem to be thinking about this stuff. The recycling guide is helpful, if optimistic, and founder Mathew Wadiak told Pacific Standard's Keira Butler that the company "buys from environmentally conscious suppliers — farms that use cover crops and no-till techniques instead of carbon-intensive synthetic fertilizer, for example." (BuzzFeed News couldn't verify this.)

And besides, industrial food production is already an incredibly complex and tangled process. Meal-delivery services might produce a whole lot of landfill waste, but for someone who lives miles away from a grocery store, the fossil-fuel impact of hopping in the car and picking up a meal's worth of ingredients — which were likely also shipped across the country, or even across the planet — might be worse.

But the shrimp and couscous were genuinely delicious, and all the rest of it was pretty good. And cleanup was a breeze, because everything went straight into the trash.


Here's What You Should Actually Buy on Black Friday

The best and worst stuff to buy this weekend.

Black Friday, as you probably know, is a post-Thanksgiving tradition that can get, um, out of hand.

Black Friday, as you probably know, is a post-Thanksgiving tradition that can get, um, out of hand.

Twitter: @jondaly

You should only have to brave this madness for the *best* deals, so I scoured dozens of ads for the deepest discounts.

You should only have to brave this madness for the *best* deals, so I scoured dozens of ads for the deepest discounts.

Then, I cross-checked every deal with this Consumer Reports guide on when to buy the lowest priced products and this highly detailed Adobe Digital Index report that looked at 55 million products from 4,500 retailers from 2008 to present.

Walmart / Best Buy

GODSPEED.


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WinToUSB 2.6

WinToUSB 2.6
WinToUSB 2.6 - WinToUSB ini merupakan sebuah software yang dapat digunakan untuk membuat bootable windows pada flashdisk kamu. Untuk kamu yang belum tau, membuat flashdisk bootable biasanya digunakan untuk melakukan instalasi windows atau OS lain dari sebuah flashdisk. Tentunya dengan memiliki file .ISO dari OS yang ingin kita install. Versi 2.6 ini merupakan versi yang paling baru (26/11/2015) yang tentunya sudah dilakukan perbaikan dari versi sebelumnya. Selamat mendownload guys!

Screenshot :

WinToUSB 2.6

Download :
  • WinToUSB 2.6 - 5 MB [Google Drive]
  • WinToUSB 2.6 - 5 MB [Solidfiles]
  • Password (if need) :  | Status : Tested (Windows 10)
Note : Pilih salah satu link saja.

How To Download

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We Tried To Make Soylent Actually Taste Like Food With DIY Recipes

For Best Results, Watch In A Browser Or Using The YouTube Mobile App:

youtube.com

Soylent may have little mass appeal — it seems safe to assume most people enjoy eating food — but those that do drink the bready formula regularly have coalesced into a tight knit community. And one thing that community loves to do, and has done since its earliest days, before the pre-mixed Soylent 2.0 debuted, is share recipes. Most of the media attention to Soylent has focused on the off-the-shelf version. But we wanted to see what it tasted like done up right. You know, the kind of Soylent your grandmother might make for Thanksgiving.

Since its inception, Soylent has been an "open source" food project. The ingredients and ratios and methods were released, iteration by iteration, in blog posts, and read by people who wanted in on the high-efficiency diet.

This explains much of why Silicon Valley investors are interested in Soylent, not just because it is a product that can "disrupt" food, but because of its community. In a blog post, Andreessen Horowitz partner Chris Dixon likened the Soylent drinkers to GoPro users. (Andreessen Horowitz is an investor in BuzzFeed.)

"Investors decided not to invest in GoPro because they saw it as a camera company, and camera companies generally get quickly commoditized," Dixon wrote. "However, investors who properly understood GoPro saw it primarily as a highly engaged community of sports enthusiasts, something that is very hard for competitors to replicate."

So, if we're looking at Soylent as the potential future of food, the collective abilities of its "community of people who are enthusiastic about using science to improve food and nutrition," as Dixon — who ended up investing in Soylent — describes it, are just as important as the original product.

Soylent

The DIY Soylent forums are what happens when that community comes together to work on improving Soylent. Or, at least, changing it, often drastically. Perusing the forums for recipes turns up some provocative possibilities. While some are optimized for weight loss or gain, or other useful properties, many are just downright creative, seeming to exist for the sheer possibility of their own existence. Soylent that tastes like an Orange Julius? A possibility. Who hasn't daydreamed, at one time or another, of subsisting entirely on "Chocolate Silk?" And, for pure ingenuity, you have to appreciate a Corn and Bean Pudding Soylent recipe.

Ainsley Sutherland / BuzzFeed

For our taste test, we opted to stick to a simple three-course tasting menu: Original Soylent as a starter, People's Chow: Tortilla Perfection! as an entree, and Liquid Cake for dessert.

Both "Tortilla Perfection!" and "Liquid Cake" are popular on the Soylent forums — the Tortilla variation actually has the most comments of any DIY recipe — and featured mostly easy-to-get ingredients. The recipes on the forum are meant for bulk consumption — usually several days' worth at least — so buying ingredients the just to sample recipes is difficult. Usually, if you pick one, it's a commitment. But, then again, subsiding on Soylent is quite the commitment in and of itself.

Eight BuzzFeed employees sat down to try Soylent variants, most for the first time, although none were anything of a Soylent connoisseur by any stretch of the imagination. So, the original recipe was included to establish a baseline for the taste test. We set up a 360-degree camera on the table in our office kitchen, handed out the cups of Soylent, and recorded the whole thing in virtual reality (kinda).

Original Soylent:

To kick things off, we tried the powdered, off the shelf version of Soylent. It did not go well. Soylent was described as "bready," and "more moist than water," and the overall sentiment was that the formula was bland and the thick, cloying texture left much to be desired. A little like drinking pancake batter, or something similar.

People's Chow: "Tortilla Perfection!"

For most of the DIY recipes, you simply take original Soylent and use that as a base for a new recipe — harnessing its blandness to layer on flavors. Tortilla Perfection! is a frontrunner on the forum, with over 1,400 comments, a series of improved formulas (we used version 3.0.2), and an intriguing flavor profile. Add the promise of a Soylent variant that billed itself as "nutritionally complete," "relatively inexpensive," and "fart-free," and we had our main course. To make Tortilla Perfection, you need:

  • Masa Harina (a corn flour)
  • a Whey Protein Isolate
  • GNC Mega Men® Sport - Vanilla Bean
  • soybean oil
  • and some supplements like Potassium Citrate and Choline Bitartrate

The additions did not improve the Soylent. It was sandy — although mixing in a blender might have solved the textural issues — and had a mealy flavor that was stronger than the original recipe, but in a way that makes you realize that maybe bland is the best option for Soylent. It was so thick that for an instant after swallowing, it stopped in my throat, which caused me to experience a moment of strong, but thankfully brief, panic. Would not recommend.

Liquid Cake

For the dessert course, we opted for a dessert Soylent. In this case, Liquid Cake. A significant portion of the DIY forums are dedicated to sweetening the formula, and this was a relatively sober-sounding option. To make it, you need:

  • a lot of vanilla-flavored whey protein
  • ultra fine oats (the recipe recommends Scottish oats)
  • Psyllium Husk powder (the brand we got? "Colon Pure")
  • rapeseed oil
  • and a host of multivitamins and supplements

Liquid Cake fared, by far, the best of the three. "It tastes like cake batter" seemed to be the overwhelming sentiment. And by "tastes like," that also means "feel like." Liquid Cake does, in fact, taste like you're drinking a vanilla-y cake batter directly from a mixing bowl. So better, sure, but still not great.

The panel was mixed on whether it was improved by whiskey.


WinRAR 5.30 Final Full Version

WinRAR 5.30 Final Full Version
WinRAR 5.30 Final Full Version merupakan versi terbaru dari WinRAR. Yup, setelah beberapa kali merilis versi beta dan beta, kini WinRAR akhirnya merilis yang versi final. Artinya, versi ini dipastikan versi yang 'sesungguhnya' dari versi beta sebelumnya. Yang pasti sudah berjalan lebih optimal. Sepertinya saya tidak perlu lagi menjelaskan tentang software yang satu ini, ya, hehe, selain bingung menjelaskannya, orang-orang juga pasti pada tau.
Screenshot :

WinRAR 5.30 Final Full Version

Download (Include Keygen 32-Bit) :
Download (Include Keygen 64-Bit) :
Note : Pilih salah satu link saja.

Cara Install :
  1. Download WinRAR 5.30 Final Full Version melalui link di atas, pilih salah satu link saja,
  2. Ekstrak, lalu install WinRAR 5.30 Final seperti biasa, 
  3. Setelah selesai, copy keygen ke folder instalasi WinRAR,
  4. Jalankan keygen secara Run Administrator, lalu klik "Save License",
  5. Done, Enjoy!
How To Download

BACA JUGA: Cara Mendapatkan Dollar dari Yroo!

Semoga Bermanfaat. :)

Can We Talk About How Creepy The Hug Emoji Is?

More like the “coming to strangle you in your sleep” emoji.

Apple recently added some new emojis to its arsenal. If you've updated to iOS 9.1, you probably have used them already.

Apple recently added some new emojis to its arsenal. If you've updated to iOS 9.1, you probably have used them already.

emojipedia.org

One of them is this SUPER CREEPTASTIC smiley face with jazz hands attached to its chinless face.

One of them is this SUPER CREEPTASTIC smiley face with jazz hands attached to its chinless face.

emojipedia.org

Did you know that this is supposed to be a "hugging face"????

Did you know that this is supposed to be a "hugging face"????

emojipedia.org

I mean... it looks more like a Making Jazz Hands Before I Strangle You In Your Sleep emoji.

I mean... it looks more like a Making Jazz Hands Before I Strangle You In Your Sleep emoji.

emojipedia.org


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How To Actually Play Adele's CD

So you’ve purchased a “compact disc”…

So you've purchased the CD version of Adele's 25, something unthinkable in 2015.

So you've purchased the CD version of Adele's 25, something unthinkable in 2015.


View Entire List ›

Here's What 7 Tech Companies Do With Their Leftovers

Silicon Valley companies offer their employees an enormous amount of free catered meals. This is what they do to prevent food waste.

Google

Google

Google's offices in Mountain View and Sunnyvale work with a program called Chefs to End Hunger. In Mountain View alone, Google has more than 39 cafes. The food goes to an East Bay nonprofit called Hope for the Heart, which distributes food to soup kitchens and the like. "Most of our food goes to a transitional homeless housing center in Oakland where residents do the finish food prep and participate in meals," a Google spokesperson told BuzzFeed News. In the next month, a "large number" of Google's chefs will work at shelters "to further help them understand the importance of what they are doing." In order to minimize potential waste, Google kitchens around the globe use a tool called LeanPath.

Via linkedin.com

Twitter

Twitter

Twitter donates both catered and boxed food to Food Runners San Francisco, a non-profit that relays more than 5,000 meals a day in the city through a network of volunteers. The program was initiated by Bon Appetit Management Company, an established corporate caterer that manages on-site restaurants for other Bay Area tech offices as well, including PayPal, Oracle, Adobe. Twitter told BuzzFeed News that the program to donated started at its old office on Folsom Street and that it donates from all of its cafes at its Mid-Market headquarters.

Twitter: @birdfeeder

Dropbox

Dropbox

At its San Francisco headquarters, Dropbox's in house food programs serves more than 1,000 people everyday. The company does not participate in a regular food-recovery program but a spokesperson said leftovers were "repurposed into other food items" and put into "pizza toppings or soup ingredients." The spokesperson said Dropbox makes a lot of its food to-order and "definitely very organized of minimizing waste and making sure we find ways of incorporating leftovers." As for Dropbox's popular sushi offerings, the spokesperson pointed out that the kitchen uses salmon bellies from fish for other dishes for its sashimi rolls. During the holidays, Dropbox works with San Francisco City Impact, which collects perishables from the company's Soma headquarters.

Via instagram.com

Uber

Uber

Uber uses catering company in the Bay Area that partners with Food Runners.

Nitasha Tiku / BuzzFeed News


View Entire List ›

What Happens To Tech's Free Food?

Dreamforce is an annual conference hosted by the software company Salesforce. It’s a massive event that tends to subsume downtown San Francisco — blocking off city streets, clogging traffic, booking up Airbnbs, filling up every over-the-top nightclub in the vicinity. This year, Salesforce even commandeered a cruise ship, docked in the San Francisco Bay, to act as a floating hotel.

That accommodating attitude extends to food offered to conference-goers. This year, the spread was so abundant that a non-profit group called Food Runners San Francisco was able to rescue 4,000 boxed lunches that would otherwise have gone to waste. “That’s only the 4,000 that I know about,” Nancy Hahn, director of operations at Food Runners, told BuzzFeed News. “The year before, it was probably similar,” said Hahn. “Those are the ones that we see, it could be more.”

Excess like that from tech companies is not hard to find. Airbnb, for example, left 1,855 pounds of extra food on the table last year at annual employee convention called One Airbnb.

Airbnb’s numbers are more precise because the company made a rare move by paying Food Shift, a non-profit focused on reducing hunger, to manage the recovery. Food Shift’s tally from just one breakfast and lunch during the four-day conference totaled 761 pounds of excess food, including 138 pounds of polenta, 78 pounds of scrambled tofu, 153 pounds of yogurt, 15 pounds of bacon and nine pounds of Mascarpone cheese. At another recent pickup, from a 140-person tech-company lunch, Hahn found 75 leftover burritos. “Ten burritos, I understand,” said Hahn. But “how do the amounts get to be so large?”

Boom times beget decadent behavior, and the only thing flowing more freely than startup funding right now is free food. During the height of the dotcom bubble, companies like Google began offering meals as a perk to maximize productivity from employees who worked long hours. But like other aspects of Silicon Valley culture — hoodies, ping pong tables, sleeping at the office — what was once utilitarian has mutated into parody. “The opulence and the abundance and the excess [of food] is kind of synonymous to what was going on in Rome before the crash,” Dana Frasz, the founder of Food Shift, told BuzzFeed News.

Indeed, if you are employed by a tech company in the Bay Area right now, or invited to their events, the supply of subsidized food within hand’s reach is almost endless. Silicon Valley campuses are now dotted with kitschy food trucks, Indian restaurants, and raw food pop-ups as an alternative to already-bountiful cafeteria buffets. Office micro-kitchens are brimming with free snacks and organic produce, cater waiters offer up artfully arranged hors d’oeuvres at hosted happy hours, fireside chats come with gourmet grazing options, and boxed lunches have been known to contain a fancy cut of meat. Elaborate menus, posted online, change daily. Last Friday’s lunch at Facebook’s Full Circle cafe, for example, was Hunger Games-themed, including dishes with names like Cinna’s Creamy Rosemary Orange Chicken and Prim’s Baked Grape Leaf and Basil Wrapped Goat Cheese. Startups like Zesty, ZeroCater, and Cater2me — middleman between offices and local restaurants and food vendors — have now begun to pop up, most backed by the same venture capital funding that propped up demand in the first place. “There’s a lot of pressure …. to never be caught without,” said Hahn. “No one can be one chip short. Ever.” Caterers have told her, “‘Oh my gosh, you should hear what we hear if we’re one portion short.’”

And all that food — spurred by the fear that anything less than abundance will hurt employee hiring and retention — leads to a lot of food waste.

But this is not another Google bus debacle, during which multi-billion dollar tech corporations and their luxury shuttle buses quickly became a symbol of the industry’s indifference toward its neighbors. Silicon Valley has, for the most part, been conscientious about the community when comes to surplus prepared food. Oftentimes that means signing up for free food-collection services, or partnering with pre-existing charities. According to Hahn, tech companies are the source of roughly 50 percent of the excess food picked up by Food Runners San Francisco, which now receives enough donations to deliver around 17 to 18 tons of food a week. And at Peninsula Food Runners, which is located in the startup-saturated South Bay, the percentage of surplus from tech companies is around 70 percent. Founder Maria Yap says hers is the only organization collecting prepared food in the area, so weekly she’s moving around 35,000 pounds of food. “GoDaddy, LinkedIn, a lot of these places have more than one cafeteria — and of course I deal with corporate caterers.”

But while non-profits told BuzzFeed News they are grateful for all the surplus food, the deluge can be overwhelming. The burden of redistributing corporate spillover falls on agencies that offer their services for free and depend on volunteers. “I’ve heard so many people in the food recovery realm say it’s too much,” Frasz told BuzzFeed News. Non-profits and church groups are overextended. “When you have to send not just one car, but three cars to a tech company to pick up what they have leftover in one day.”

For-profit entities are entitled to their extravagances, of course. And food waste is a national issue, not unique to the tech industry. A 2012 report from the National Resources Defense Council found that 40 percent of the food in the United States goes uneaten. But surplus sounds callous from companies who claim to have a better vision for how the world should operate. It’s particularly troubling considering the number of neighbors who go hungry. In Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, which encompasses Menlo Park, Mountain View, and Sunnyvale — and the headquarters of Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, and Yahoo — one in four individuals is at risk for hunger. The national average is one in six people. In one of the wealthiest areas of the country that considers itself an incubator for the future, one in three kids are at risk for hunger.

To address the issue, in 2014, Second Harvest Food Bank launched “Stand up for kids,” a campaign co-chaired by Sheryl Sandberg. Second Harvest is the largest food bank in the region, serving 250,000 people a month, but it doesn’t work with prepared food. The agency is mainly seeking funding and Silicon Valley has been eager to oblige. Tami Cardenas, vice president of development and marketing, said they have also been “trying to appeal to young tech workers,” including a Thanksgiving-themed spoof of Drake’s video for “Hotline Bling.”

Bon Appetit Management Company, which runs cafeterias for Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, and many more, seems headed in the right direction. The company hired a waste specialist who doubled the amount of food recovered in her first year, and Bon Appetit recently announced ambitious company-wide goals for food recovery by 2018. So far this year, its corporate accounts in the Bay Area donated 58,965 pounds of food.

When it comes to surplus food, the pick-up and delivery process is about as intricate as Facebook’s daily menus. From big tech companies with an in-house kitchen, Food Runners San Francisco is seeing twelve to 20 trays on a daily basis, said Hahn. “That’s like food for 75 to 100 people. Sometimes the shelters get full. Some shelters don’t take catered food at all. Some of the really large soup kitchens, they’re trying to serve 2,000,” so “40 of this and 50 of that” doesn’t always fit their needs.

“I know this is gonna sound really crazy,” said Hahn, but one of the challenges early on were the lids for foil catering trays. “We would go for pick up and the lids would be nowhere in sight.” The food providers would explain that they took away the lids because “the clients don’t like to see them.”

Peninsula Food Runners’ criteria for free pick-ups is whether the food would be able to feed 10 people. “They don’t think who is actually eating this,” said Yap. “Come on, you guys, let’s be green about this. Would you want a driver to come out just to get your mayonnaise and ketchup?”

Ironically, the issues plaguing food recovery are the type of problems currently in vogue with startup founders. There’s a two-sided marketplace (donors on one side, shelters and food banks on the other). It requires real-time responsiveness (donations come in at peak hours and prepared food must be delivered in a timely manner). The process is riddled with inefficiencies (mismatch between the size of a donation and the needs of a shelter). The labor force is crowd-sourced and fractured (on-demand apps require cheap couriers whereas non-profits rely on volunteers).

“I make a joke sometimes, ‘Well, there oughta be an app for that!’” said Hahn. “What if when you walked in the office in the morning you [pressed a button] that said ‘Yes, I’m having lunch’ or ‘No, I’m not having lunch today.’” Perhaps, said Hahn, companies were using waste prevention measures. “Sometimes, based on the amounts of food I see, it doesn’t seem like they’re doing that.

Yap built an application called Chow Match to make donations easier. “The programmer happens to be my husband. He was just so tired of me talking about all this inefficiency.” She said with more resources she could educate corporations concerned about the liability for donating prepared foods or whether or not there is a tax write-off. (Taxes are a concern with this perk. Last year, the IRS put “employer-provider meals” on its list of top priorities.)

Airbnb tasking Food Shift to manage those extra pounds of mascarpone and bacon is a great example of a successful partnership, Frasz said. For one, based on the feedback loop, waste was reduced by 191 pounds the next day. And secondly, Airbnb was willing to pay for the service.

In June, Food Shift released an in-depth report about waste in Santa Clara county, which includes Cupertino, Palo Alto, and Mountain View. “It exposes the hidden complexities around food recovery,” said Frasz. “I don’t think people realize how under-resourced these people are and how $300 would actually make a big deal.” It’s frustrating, she said, when “the tech company isn’t even willing to pay for the containers.”

instagram.com

Startup Zenefits Under Scrutiny For Flouting Insurance Laws

Zenefits founder Parker Conrad speaks at a conference in New York in 2013.

Brian Ach / Getty Images

The Silicon Valley startup Zenefits, valued at $4.5 billion in a funding round earlier this year, apparently flouted insurance laws by allowing unlicensed brokers to sell health insurance — an approach that has led to at least one regulatory inquiry into the legality of its operations.

Zenefits, a middleman in the health insurance business, has repeatedly failed to enforce legal requirements that anyone selling a health insurance policy have an appropriate state license, a BuzzFeed News investigation has found. The San Francisco-based company allowed numerous salespeople to act as insurance brokers in at least seven states without licenses to do so, according to internal emails and records, as well as interviews with eight former employees with direct knowledge of the matter.

BuzzFeed News has reviewed examples of the unlicensed sale of insurance by Zenefits employees dating back as far as the summer of 2014 and continuing through this summer. It is unclear when the practice began and whether it continues today; the company says it now has strict procedures in place to enforce licensing rules.

At least one regulator, the insurance commissioner in Washington state, is currently examining whether Zenefits operated there without licenses, according to a spokesperson for the agency, Stephanie Marquis. The Washington inquiry began in early 2015 and has not yet been resolved, she said.

Zenefits management seemed aware of the potentially serious consequences of violating licensing rules. Under Washington law, anyone who knowingly sells, solicits, or negotiates insurance without the proper state license is guilty of a Class B felony, which can carry a prison sentence of up to 10 years, as well as a civil penalty of up to $25,000 for each violation.

“You are putting the company at risk” by not “immediately” getting broker licenses in Washington, Niji Sabharwal, a Zenefits senior sales operations manager, told sales reps in April.

Upon learning of the Washington inquiry, Zenefits scrambled to get its house in order. Sales reps who had closed deals in that state were told of the inquiry by a Zenefits senior sales operations analyst, Erin Stephens, in an email in early April. The subject line read, “URGENT -- Get Licensed in Washington.”

The email, and two follow-up notes, were sent on a Thursday. On the following Monday, 22 Zenefits employees became licensed brokers in Washington, state records show. Four others received their Washington licenses later that month.

Only this July, more than two years after Zenefits launched, did the company introduce a standardized “license management system” to track whether sales reps had licenses, an internal email shows. (Earlier efforts at license tracking were not comprehensive, according to two former employees.) That email, sent by Sabharwal to managers who oversaw sales reps, acknowledged that there were still “a few reps” who hadn’t yet received licenses “but are currently working deals.”

While Zenefits sales reps were told that they needed licenses to do their job, managers in many cases showed a blase attitude toward the requirement, pushing the unlicensed reps to meet sales quotas, the former employees said. In several cases, sales reps who had failed a broker license exam once or more times were allowed to continue working the phones. At least one person who lacked any license in any state but hit his sales quotas last fall was promoted, according to state records and former employees.

“It is — and has always been — Zenefits’ policy that every individual who sells insurance at Zenefits, as well as the company itself, must be licensed to sell insurance,” Zenefits said in a written statement provided to BuzzFeed News by a spokesman, Kenneth Baer. “Zenefits has more than 280 active resident insurance licenses and more than 2,500 active non-resident licenses, and these licensed brokers have sold thousands of insurance policies over the past two-and-a-half years.”

“We have taken corrective action, including terminating the employee, when we have learned of violations, either because individuals failed to pass the brokerage exam or have otherwise violated our licensing policies,” the statement continued. “Any accusations of other individuals violating our licensure policies will be thoroughly investigated, and we will take appropriate remedial action.”

Zenefits gives away free software to small businesses to manage their employee benefits, though fundamentally it is an insurance brokerage firm, collecting recurring commissions when it sells health insurance policies to those businesses. It says its technology and user-friendliness can help it displace stodgy insurance brokers and claim their lucrative commissions.

The insurance brokerage industry is heavily regulated, and technological innovation has historically been slow to take hold. Many conventional brokers still rely on mountains of forms and spreadsheets — enhancing the appeal of Zenefits for customers who resent paperwork and value speed. On the other hand, conventional brokers argue that an important part of their job is to provide advice gained from study and experience, something that can’t easily be replicated by fresh-faced sales reps and sophisticated software.

Zenefits’ strategy for disrupting this industry — where human lives literally are at stake — has typified the current tech boom: rapid growth, with little regard for the conventions of old-school industries.

“If you’re an insurance broker, we’re going to drink your milkshake,” Parker Conrad, the Zenefits co-founder and CEO, said at a tech event in 2013.

Among new startups of recent years, few have generated as much praise from investors and reporters as Zenefits. Launched only in 2013, it quickly grew into a Silicon Valley “unicorn,” with a $4.5 billion valuation as of May. Forbes called it the “hottest startup” of 2014. Business Insider said it was a startup “to bet your career on in 2015.”

The Hollywood celebrities Ashton Kutcher and Jared Leto are investors in the privately held company. A Silicon Valley celebrity, the former PayPal executive David Sacks, is its chief operating officer. Its other backers include the mutual fund giant Fidelity and the big private equity investor TPG, as well as the prominent venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, which has invested more money in Zenefits than in any other startup in its portfolio. (Andreessen Horowitz is also an investor in BuzzFeed.)

Virginia Mayo / Associated Press

The revelation about unlicensed brokers, which has never previously been made public, comes as the company is facing questions about its ability to live up to its lofty valuation. Fidelity, which bought Zenefits shares in the May investment round, marked down the value of its stake by 48% as of the end of September, according to data from the investment research company Morningstar. While Zenefits has said it hopes to hit $100 million in annual revenue by January, one indicator suggested the figure had reached only $45 million by August, according to a recent Wall Street Journal report. The Zenefits spokesman declined to comment on that report.

Zenefits is among a class of richly valued startups that have taken an aggressive stance toward longstanding industry rules. Uber and Airbnb, for example, have shown that it can be a winning strategy to clash with state and city governments over rules that the startups claim are outmoded or unfair. Zenefits got a taste of this sort of battle late last year, when Utah insurance regulators sought to block the company from operating there over claims that its free software amounted to an improper inducement for customers. (Utah allowed Zenefits back in this year.)

The sale of insurance is governed at the state level. In every state, brokers who sell health insurance policies to companies based there are required to have a license from that state. Many brokers interpret the laws to mean that they need a license not only to sell insurance but also to discuss it with clients in any meaningful way.

In California, where many Zenefits customers are located, the law says people can't "solicit, negotiate, or effect contracts of insurance" without a license. An important exemption is for clerical and support work, like setting up appointments or gathering basic information from customers. Under California law, selling insurance without a valid license is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $50,000 or up to a year in prison.

Zenefits itself is a licensed brokerage company and Conrad, the CEO, has a broker license in all 50 states. But the employees who do the selling are also legally required to be licensed brokers in the states where they work.

"Whether you’re selling through an app or through a brick-and-mortar store, you have to be licensed” in every state in which you sell insurance policies, said Adam Beck, a professor of health insurance at the American College of Financial Services in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. "Working for someone who happens to be licensed in not sufficient."

The unlicensed sale of insurance is challenging for regulators to catch, largely because there is no public database of insurance policies sold. Regulators generally rely on tips, including from customers, who can check whether their broker is licensed using state databases like this one, this one, or this one.

“When we started Zenefits, we followed a practice common to many small independent brokerages of having each broker licensed in their home state and having the agency itself also registered in all 50 states so as to allow out-of-state sales,” Zenefits said in its statement. “As we grew and heard from regulators that they wanted each licensed broker individually to acquire a non-resident license, we set out to do just that.”

Conrad speaks at a conference in San Francisco in 2015

Steve Jennings / Getty Images

The Zenefits sales force is run by Sam Blond, the San Francisco-based vice president of sales. He joined the company in late 2013 after quickly rising through the sales organization at EchoSign, a software startup that was sold to Adobe in 2011. Many of the apparently unlicensed insurance sales occurred in Zenefits’ big satellite office in Scottsdale, Arizona, which opened in the fall of last year and quickly filled up with hundreds of employees. But there is evidence of unlicensed selling of insurance in Zenefits’ San Francisco headquarters as well.

One Zenefits sales rep who didn’t have a license in any state closed insurance deals with at least 27 companies, starting in February and continuing through June, an internal document shows. The sales rep, who was based in Scottsdale and left Zenefits this summer, convinced eight of the companies to enroll in new health insurance, according to the document. He convinced 19 companies to make Zenefits their broker of record, the document shows. The states where he closed deals included Arizona, California, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, and New Jersey.

In San Francisco, a different sales rep, who started in June 2014, sold a health insurance policy to a New York-based startup called Goodsie during her first months on the job. Conrad had personally reached out several times to woo Goodsie, which provides e-commerce software to businesses, but he bowed out and let the rep take over, emails show. This sales rep, however, lacked a New York broker license until June of this year, state records show.

Among the 22 Zenefits employees who got insurance licenses in Washington on the Monday after being warned about the regulatory inquiry, nine were based in Scottsdale, state records and their LinkedIn profiles show. The other 13 were in San Francisco.

Three of the former Zenefits employees interviewed by BuzzFeed News, refusing to speak on the record for fear of professional or legal consequences, acknowledged that they routinely pitched or sold health insurance policies without adequate licensing. Three others said they supervised the sale of health insurance by unlicensed sales reps.

"I made like $15,000 in the time I was there, just on commissions. And I never got my license," said an insurance salesperson who left Zenefits this summer. She estimated she had more than 100 conversations with different customers about insurance. "I took my test three times in a row, and I failed. They still let me work."

Without her license, she had to improvise on calls with customers.

When faced with a tricky question, "I would just Google it,” she said. She would tell the customer, "hold on one second, let me email the expert, he's on the line, hold on one second, I'll get back to you.” But in reality, “I would pick one of the first three links and I would just go off of that."

A large number of the new hires in the Scottsdale office came from other technology companies, with experience in sales but little familiarity with health insurance. Zenefits offered to pick up the cost of studying for and taking the broker test, several former employees said. But new sales reps there soon discovered that getting licensed wasn’t seen as an urgent priority. More important was hitting sales quotas, which initially would increase each month.

Those who hit the quotas, even if they lacked broker licenses, were rewarded, the former employees said. One of the earliest hires for the Scottsdale office started as a health insurance sales rep in September 2014, according to his LinkedIn profile and interviews with two former colleagues. He was promoted in January to a sales manager job, which would not necessarily require a broker license, and he was promoted again last month.

This sales rep had no broker license until September of this year, when he got a license in California, according to a search of every state insurance database for his name. After BuzzFeed News first attempted to contact him for this article, he got licenses in states including Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Nevada, Oregon, and Virginia, state records show.

Once an insurance broker gets a license in one state, they can pay a fee and fill out information online to have the credential replicated in other states where they do business. But even this simple task eluded many sales reps. One former sales rep who started in the Scottsdale office last fall said he had an Arizona license but didn’t bother to get licenses in the other states where he was selling insurance until January, when Blond instructed sales reps to focus on particular states.

Even after that instruction, sales reps had a relaxed attitude toward the licensing requirements, former employees said. Another former sales rep said he procrastinated after passing his broker exam, waiting two months before filling out the paperwork to get his first license this spring. In the meantime, he sold insurance.

Washington state regulators delivered a jolt to Zenefits, however. On April 2, just after 2 p.m., Stephens, the senior sales operations analyst, sent an email to sales reps who had "closed business in Washington in 2014 or 2015 without providing your licensing information to the sales operations team (thus, Zenefits at large.)"

She said Zenefits faced "an inquiry" from Washington's insurance regulator into the company's business practices. "As part of the response," she said, "we must list out every broker who deals with Washington clients and their WA license number. This requires that we gather all licensing information from individual reps" -- this part was underlined and in red lettering -- "TODAY by 4:00 PM."

"If you are not licensed in Washington, take 5 minutes to complete the process on NIPR," Stephens added, referring to the website that lets people apply to transfer their credentials to other states. She told sales reps to add their confirmation numbers to a Google doc after completing online applications.

Not everyone who received the email appeared to grasp its urgency.

“Drop what you are doing and submit the application to get licensed in WA,” read a bolded sentence in a follow-up email, sent just after 6 p.m. by Sabharwal, the senior sales operations manager.

“This is the third communication on this. It takes less than 10 mins,” he continued. “You are putting the company at risk by not doing this immediately.”

Months later, in July, unlicensed insurance sales were apparently still a problem. In the July 6 email announcing the license management system, Sabharwal said Zenefits would “now be able to prevent a rep from closing a deal if they are not licensed to sell into that state.”

“This is an area of great concern as the consequences of breaking these rules can be detrimental to our ability to operate in that state,” he continued.

In its written statement, Zenefits said, “As we have grown, so have our compliance procedures.” Zenefits said job offer letters to sales reps now specify licensing requirements, and that the company’s internal software systems now include licensing checks as part of the sales process.

A week after Sabharwal’s email, licensing information for a number of sales reps still hadn’t been entered into the new system, according to another email from him. The email, which Sabharwal sent to sales managers on July 13, contained a chart showing “Incomplete Resident Licenses by Manager.” The 16 managers listed by name in the chart corresponded to a combined 33 incomplete records for sales reps.

“A valid license means that they have their license number and expiration date,” Sabharwal reminded the managers. “Just passing the insurance test does not constitute a license.”

The former sales rep who closed at least 27 deals without a broker license appeared to shift his strategy toward the middle of the year, emails to his customers show. In a February email to one small business CEO he was courting, he said, "I primarily am a broker and obtain the responsibility to work with our clients in that capacity."

Later, in interactions with a different company, he appeared to take a more conservative approach. The customer, Defib This, a small company in Santa Cruz, Calif. that runs emergency response training courses, had been "desperately searching for insurance," according to Aki Williams, the chief operating officer.

But Williams was a "little peeved," when the sales rep refused to have any meaningful discussions about insurance policies. "He sent us emails that had multiple options, but we really couldn't pin him down to say, 'This is what's going to work best for your company,'" Williams said.

Williams ended up buying an insurance policy through the sales rep that took effect in July. She said she had no idea that he lacked a broker license.

When Zenefits sought to fix this issue, it declined to pull unlicensed sales reps off the phones entirely, the July 6 email from Sabharwal shows. For new hires going forward, Sabharwal told sales managers, the company would start “requiring reps to have passed their license exams before starting boot camp, which will ensure that they have a license by the time they get on the phones.” But the policy for current sales reps was apparently different.

“There [are] still, however, a few reps who have passed the test, submitted the application, and are awaiting their license number but are currently working deals,” he continued. “We are going to make an exception for these reps and allow them to close deals as long as their manager is on the phone with them.”

Sabharwal emphasized this instruction in his follow-up email on July 13.

“A reminder that if any of your reps do not have a valid license in hand for their resident state (usually CA or AZ), YOU MUST be on every call where insurance is discussed,” he told sales managers.

Two former employees said they participated in such phone calls, in which an unlicensed rep would be supervised by a more senior employee with a broker license. Such a solution, however, falls into a legal gray area, according to William Gausewitz, a Sacramento-based partner at the law firm Michelman & Robinson who formerly was a deputy insurance commissioner at the California Department of Insurance.

"I don't think it complies technically with the licensing laws," Gausewitz said, commenting in general on the practice. "But if the unlicensed people are supervised by a licensed broker, the department is not going to be as suspicious that the agency is engaged in flagrant lawbreaking violations."

This App Could Make Scheduling Shifts Better For Wage Workers

Thirteen-hundred Gap employees are part of a study to see, among other things, if an app can make retail work better for workers.

Via Flickr: seattlemunicipalarchives

For many American workers, this is a short week, one that ends in the reward of one or two days off work, a big meal, and time spent with friends and family. But for retail workers, this weekend is the kickoff of a nearly two-month-long slog through the holiday season: last-minute shifts, packed stores, frenzied customers.

A big part of that is on-call shift scheduling, in which staff are required to be available for shifts that can be canceled at any time with no pay. Recently, in response to criticism of the practice, retail behemoths including Abercrombie & Fitch, Victoria's Secret, and Gap have abandoned the practice. Gap Inc. in particular has partnered with the University of California Hastings College of Law on a study aimed at finding solutions to the harried nature of retail work, year round. Researchers will spend nine months observing the effects of policies, such as a mandatory two-week advance on schedules, on workers.

One thing the Gap thought might help is making it easier for workers to communicate with one another. White-collar workers are accustomed to having corporate email accounts that hook into messaging applications like Slack or HipChat, giving them constant — maybe even too much — access to their colleagues. But aside from long, often confusing group text messages on personal phone numbers, there's really no equivalent for people who work in places like restaurants.

That's a problem that ShiftMessenger has been trying to solve since the company emerged from Y Combinator last year. Today, the company is announcing a partnership with 30 Gap stores in Chicago and San Francisco to see whether its technology can help retail workers — 1,300 of them — get through the holiday season with a little less stress. ShiftMessenger, a WhatsApp-type app that allows co-workers to post and pick up unwanted shifts as well as share pictures and chat, has already made adjustments to its product to coordinate better with Gap. Last week, it rolled out a groups function that separates different job types.


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How To Instagram Your Thanksgiving Dinner Without Ruining Everything


It's time to end the tyranny.

Once a year, families across America gather to celebrate the best things in life, the things for which they are thankful. But whip out the possession for which you are most thankful — your phone — and some relatives may wag a finger in admonishment.

You might assume the best course of action at such a time would be to stand down and apologetically return the phone to your pocket. Nonsense! We live in a social media society, and Thanksgiving meals deserve to be Instagrammed. Indeed, they must be Instagrammed, and by God, they shall! And it is incumbent upon you, budding Instagram superstar, to wage a campaign to convince your family that Thanksgiving ain't Thanksgiving unless it's documented, filtered, and shared.

What follows is the product of an ongoing effort to convey the value of social sharing to family members. These secrets have long been closely guarded, but it's time to share them. And so, without any further delay, here it is: a guide to Instagramming your Thanksgiving dinner without being disinvited to your grandma's funeral.

Step 1: Lay the Groundwork


The first step to gaining acceptance for your Instagram activities is soft selling your family on why Thanksgiving is enhanced by social sharing. This requires a plan. Hope is no strategy. Use any number of these common selling points:

* This meal is so great, why keep it to ourselves?

* My filter can make your turkey look less overcooked.

* Thanksgiving is about our happiness, and this is how I get mine.

* The neighbors follow me on Instagram, and I want to shove this awesome meal in their faces.

* The second largest industry in America behind porn is food porn. (This is unconfirmed, so fact-check with Wikipedia beforehand if you plan to use it.)

* I'm not holding a phone, I'm holding the one object linking together all of humanity.

* I could be on a pot delivery service, OK? You should be happy I'm doing this instead.

Step 2: Build Allies

You're going to need a group of core supporters to quash dissent among any social media haters that may remain after your soft sell. First on the list: Grandma.

Pull your grandmother aside and tell her how amazing she is. Then form what will likely be your most important alliance. Tell her this: "Grandma, the only way I will remember you is by putting you in the cloud. When you go up to the cloud, and I'm down here, we can both share these memories together."

Now, pull your pops aside, tell him this: "Father, my Instagram is a modern-day version of your Vivitar 2 MP Digital Camcorder with 4X Digital Zoom. And I never gave you any shit about that. I need you on my side here."

Now attempt to win over two to three other dinner attendees. Push the nostalgia factor. Show filters that make your Instas look like they were shot in the '70s. Explain that this is for the common good. If things get desperate, consider paying them off.

Make sure your allies are reliable. This is critical. You'll need their support in the event of a dispute.

Step 3: Demonstrate Value by Appealing to Vanity


The magic of Instagram is the filter. Put Valencia on a garbage bin and it will look positively artistic. Put Sutro on a booger and you're guaranteed 50 likes — at least. And XPro? Let's not even get started.

Turn any of these filters on your relatives and they'll feel like celebrities. Get your Aunt Lilly to selfie and select her own filter, and her smile will illuminate the room. And Aunt Lilly doesn't smile.

Give your sister's awkward new boyfriend Ned the honor of photographing the turkey. Tell him the picture looks great and let him post it. Then delete it. The photo was terrible. But now Ned loves you! Tell your sister to dump him immediately following the meal.

See, we're making progress here. You should be feeling far more confident about keeping your phone on the table than you did when you walked in the room. Enjoy your newfound phone freedom by taking it for a spin: Hop on Tinder. Hang out on Snapchat. Open your fantasy football app and relish the fact that Tony Romo is blowing yet another critical game.

Now buckle up, the next step will take some guts.

Step 4: Use the "What I'm Thankful For" Line to Promote Your Social Presence

At some point during the festivities, your relatives will announce what they're thankful for. Many will cite family and health. You will not. This moment is too precious for a silly throwaway line.

When your turn arrives, take a deep breath, and make the following declaration of unyielding loyalty to the socialverse:

"I, [insert your name], am thankful for social photo sharing, the most epic innovation of our lifetime. Photos bring the world's population together at a time when forces everywhere seek to divide us. They allow us to behold our common humanity, with no language barrier ripping us apart. Some people say a photo is worth 1,000 words, but I say a properly exposed photo with contrast turned all the way up and 25% vignette has the ability to solve this world's problems. I'm thankful for Mark Zuckerberg and Kevin Systrom, two giants of our time, who stayed the course in the face of adversity, and didn't fuck up Instagram like Yahoo did to Flickr. I am thankful they hewed to a reasonable valuation and avoided the overinflated private markets, so that their dreams and our dreams could thrive untroubled by pressure from the Twitter hivemind. Instragram makes the world a better place; it makes it a world in which I am thankful to live."

Practice this speech in front of a mirror at least five times before dinner. Focus! An earnest delivery is crucial.

Step 5: Finish off the Resistance

At this point, your Uncle Bob will likely pull you aside, put his arm uncomfortably around your shoulder and neck, and ask you when you're going to get a real job instead of playing around on the "social medias." Can you believe this guy? Everyone knows your Aunt Maureen hates him; she's only putting up with him until cousins Ulysses and Figaro go to college. And why is he wearing sweatpants?

Show Uncle Bob no mercy — NONE. Come armed with the facts and definitively dispatch this piddling dissent from your family's most disliked member. Look Uncle Bob in the eyes, and tell him about the money top Instagram photographers are raking in making branded content. Tell him an Instagram photographer with a mere 100,000 followers can make up to $900 per photo promoting a product. Wait a beat and then tell him that some Instagram photographers make up to $8,000 a photo. Savor the look on his face.

Real job, Uncle Bob? Make it clear that you are after that brand money and when it inevitably starts to pour in, he's not going to see a single dollar. Case closed.

Step 6: Snap Away

Ah, victory. Now you can get down to business.

To create a perfect Thanksgiving Instagram, Quartz recommends using a recent iPhone model, snapping food photos in natural light, enhancing them with advanced filtering apps like VSCO Cam, and occasionally taking pictures of stuff other than the food. You worked hard for this, enjoy the moment.

Are you ready for some of this?

instagram.com

And some of this?

instagram.com

And a little of this?

Yes. Yes you are.

Happy Thanksgiving, America.

Additional reporting by Barry Kantrowitz.

This Is The Future Of Thanksgiving And It’s Pretty Gross

Jared Harell for BuzzFeed News

Thanksgiving is a holiday steeped in tradition and nostalgia. That’s why the menu is basically unchanged since Norman Rockwell painted it – weird 1950s foods like candied yams (literally wut) and canned cranberry sauce (oooh canning! What an impressive showing of our post–World War II bounty).

But it’s the 21st century, and our Thanksgiving dinner should catch up to our modern ideas about nutrition and sustainable agriculture. That’s why we made an entire Thanksgiving meal with “future foods” — you know, food tech — swapped in for normal ingredients. This means either something that’s a futuristic substance (Soylent, TruBrain), a normal-ish food but made by companies that operate like tech startups with venture capital funding (Hungry Root), food made by startups with sustainability in mind (Just Mayo, Beyond Meat), or just plain sustainable alternative proteins (crickets).

Some of it was fairly decent, some of it was actively disgusting. Regardless, the future of Thanksgiving is here, and it’s Soylent gravy. So sit down, unbuckle your belt, and dig in.

This was basically regular old mashed potatoes with milk and butter, but with the addition of garlic Just Mayo. I had high hopes for this dish, since it promised to be most like the original version of the meal.

The Result: The recipe called for just 2¼ pounds of potatoes, which turned out to be just three big potatoes. That didn’t seem like enough, so I added in more potatoes and attempted to adjust the butter/milk/mayo to match. However, I kinda eyeballed this process, and the proportions were probably a little off. They were a little dry, and the consistency was not as fluffy as I’d like. It’s hard to say if this was because of the Just Mayo or just my own potato-head.

Many cranberry sauce recipes call for orange juice, so I substituted in a citrusy-tasting drink called TruBrain. You just boil up cranberries, sugar, and the juice for about 15 minutes — pretty simple. TruBrain is basically like 5-Hour Energy drink, but its hook is that it’s made by scientists especially formulated for your brain with a bunch of natural stuff (not just caffeine). TruBrain’s site says, “UCLA trained neuroscientists set out to solve the problem that energy drinks do not —genuine focus.”

The Result: It was good! This tasted exactly like regular cranberry sauce. TruBrain is kind of tart and slightly fruity — it tastes pretty good by itself — so it was a perfect substitution for orange juice. I would actually highly recommend this for a normal Thanksgiving. Caffeinated cranberry sauce is the genius antidote for the tryptophan of the turkey.

The idea here was to replace the classic candied yams Thanksgiving side. Hungry Root is a venture capital–backed startup that delivers individually packaged meals, mostly of spiralized vegetable noodles. I used the sweet potato noodles, since sweet potatoes are basically yams, right?

It was was by far the easiest item, because it was completely ready-made and packaged. I just heated up three packages per the directions on the back, and voila.

The Result: This dish was particularly disliked by my guests. Admittedly, I think I undercooked them, but also guests didn’t understand that these were spiralized vegetables and were expecting real pasta noodles. They were unpleasantly surprised. “An abomination to noodles,” is what our style editor Julie Gerstein called them.

Jared Harrell / BuzzFeed News

This was basically the Betty Crocker bread stuffing recipe, with two major additions: dried crickets for crunch and Hungry Root’s Root Risotto, which is a mix of chopped carrot, celery root, rutabaga, and sweet potato and includes their own thyme apple butter. The dried crickets came packaged with light Italian seasoning from Big Cricket Farms — you could mistake the dried ones for some sort of nuts or weirdly seasoned wasabi peas.

The Result: If it wasn’t for the crickets (which aren’t AS bad as I expected), this would actually be some of the best stuffing I’ve ever had. I fully attribute this to the addition of the Root Risotto and the thyme apple butter, which gave the stuffing a sweetness and depth of flavor that was more than just bread with onions.

Jared Harrell / BuzzFeed News

Thanksgiving has long been a battleground for vegetarians and their older relatives who are vexed by the refusal to consume dead turkey flesh. Tofurky has been around for almost 30 years, long enough to look hilariously outdated in its packaging. It’s old news. Beyond Meat is the hottest tech startup in fake meat, with Twitter co-founder Biz Stone and Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins as investors, and the former McDonald’s CEO on its board. Beyond Meat’s appeal (other than that you can abbreviate it BM) is that its texture is supposedly more like real chicken than any other competitors, thanks to its specially developed cooking process. But Beyond Meat is sold in chicken strip pieces, which don’t really have the festive holiday appeal I was looking for.

Enter the turkey cake pan.

I ground up four packages of Beyond Meat grilled chicken strips in a food processor, mixed them with some eggs and breadcrumbs, and tossed it into the turkey pan to bake, like a giant fake turkey meatball.

The Result: Most importantly, I was very excited about how it came out looking PERFECTLY like a turkey, thanks to the pan.

However, the unanimous opinion across all taste testers was that it was incredibly bland. Basically it just tastes like plain fake meat. A healthy dose of gravy helped, but the whole thing probably would’ve been better if the mixture had been seasoned more – perhaps mixing in more spices or chopped onions. If you’re looking for a vegetarian turkey alternative, I think you could really make this dish work (I’m sure you could also take out the eggs for a vegan version).

Jared Harrell / BuzzFeed News

What’s Thanksgiving without gravy? This was made from a mix of Soylent, chicken broth (I suppose you could swap in vegetable broth for a vegetarian version), butter, and flour to thicken the sauce up. Basically, you’re creating a thicker, gooier, chicken flavored Soylent. Mmm mmm...

The Result: Weirdly, not totally terrible. The color was paler than traditional turkey gravy, more like the lighter gravy you’d see on biscuits and gravy.

Jared Harrell for BuzzFeed News

The idea here was to replace half the pecans with crickets, figuring it might sort of hide the bugs and make it look like regular pecan pie. Additionally, I made a crust with cricket flour, which you can buy on Amazon and is a mix of real flour and crickets. You use it cup for cup with regular flour when baking.

For the crust, I used this Food.com recipe, which was pretty straightforward. I just substituted the cricket flour for regular flour.

For the pie filling, I used BuzzFeed’s recommendation for a whiskey pecan pie recipe from Crunkcakes. However, instead of using 2 cups of pecans, I used 1 cup of pecans and 1 cup of crickets. I also used Jack Daniels instead of the recommended Jim Beam, but eh. Tennessee whiskey.

Jared Harell / BuzzFeed News

The crickets arrived from Big Cricket Farms frozen in a bag. To unfreeze them, you dump them into a pot of boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes and then drain with a strainer, like a disgusting buggy pasta. The water turns brown and stinks of bugs. It was fairly horrifying. I’m pretty squwicked out by bugs, and as I stared at the strainer full of cooling insects I was almost sure that I was going to see them come back to life and start moving.

The Result: This was probably the most disgusting of all the foods. The crickets were surprisingly well hidden on first glance at the pie, but as soon as you looked at the slice on your plate, you could clearly see gross little bugs sticking out. To be fair, I don’t think you could taste them, per se, but a cricket je ne sais quoi was there. The cricket flour crust didn’t help either — it has a more savory flavor than a pie crust should, more like a cracker than a pie crust.

To fit the theme of “future foods,” I chose the can of pumpkin with the spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves) already mixed in. It felt a little like cheating, but what is the future if not more convenient? I followed the recipe on the back of the can (duh, the back of the can recipe is always best), which calls for just salt, eggs, and a can of evaporated milk.

Except instead of evaporated milk, I substituted 12 ounces of Soylent 2.0.

Soylent, of course, is the most ideal of any future food. It’s developed to be a complete food replacement: You can go 30 days without having to worry about the annoyance of deciding Ugh, what to eat? and just get fueled by pure ’net juice and still get all your nutrients. This summer, Soylent released its version 2.0 product, which came in bottles (previously you had to mix your own drinks from powder), boasted a better taste, and crucially claimed to have solved the pesky flatulence problem of version 1.0.

To round out the pie, I also used the cricket flour crust (same as pecan recipe).

The Results: It was basically just like bad pumpkin pie. Not inedible, just...not good. Like the pecan pie, the savoriness of the cricket flour crust threw off the balance of the dish. To compound the issue, the filling was sweeter than normal. Soylent 2.0 tastes basically like a vanilla protein shake, which of course is sweeter than the plain evaporated milk it was substituting. So you had a very sweet filling and savory crust, but not in a way that worked.


Jared Harrell / BuzzFeed News


Jared Harrell / BuzzFeed News

How could you NOT mix these with booze? The Trutini is equal parts TruBrain and vodka, shaken with ice and served in a martini glass.

The Result: When I spoke with Chris Thompson from TruBrain about this project, I asked him if people ever made cocktails with the drink. He said that they definitely did but warned that TruBrain enhances the effects of alcohol, so be careful.

Chris was NOT lying. These things will FUCK YOU UP and leave you with a crazy headache you’ve never experienced before. They’re surprisingly delicious, so we all sucked them down pretty happily, and no one felt good the next day.