Yelping South Park

The big question that is looming over the Bay Area today: “Is Yelp suing South Park or not?” If you missed this week’s newest South Park episode, you missed out on some laughs. The episode depicts Cartman and his buddies as going Yelp-crazy, expecting discounted dinners in trade for their reviews. It is basically a really mild episode of South Park until the end, when they compare Yelp reviewers to members of ISIS. In actuality Yelp might have a leg to stand on in the slander department for that type of comparison. But would they really sue over this, and risk looking like they can’t take a joke? South Park has always been controversial, and others in the past that have taken their depictions too seriously have risked looking like they have no sense of humor. NBC broke the story this morning, which made the actual story seem true. The creators of South Park, Matt Stone and Trey Parker even had a comeback:

“We’ve taken a hard look at the information presented to us, and after reviewing it, we have given Yelp and their lawsuit only one star. Their lawyers delivered us legal documents in a very unprofessional manner; not bothering to smile or even a quick handshake. The writing on the envelope was barely legible and in two different colors. It is our personal opinion that Yelp could do a much better job by not suing us for ten million dollars.”

There was an announcement later in the day that it was not true, and that Yelp thought the episode was funny. So which is it? Can Yelp take a joke or not? I guess we will have to wait and see.

Facebook “Reactions”

Facebook introduced their newest innovation this week, and those who were expecting a “dislike” button were disappointed. Instead Facebook revealed 7 emoji’s spanning different emotions ranging from anger to love. Facebook is calling the emoji’s “reactions,” and considering them an extension of the “like” button. Although the little emoticons are cute, some are questioning what the point of having them as a selectable option might be. These emoji’s would be placed at the end of stories in your news feed, as well as on friend’s statuses.

In reality, if you currently want to leave a comment on a post, you can use an emoji. Right now you would select it from your phone’s keyboard, so having the option of choosing one on the post itself just seems like a lazy man’s shortcut. Would a dislike button be a better option? While these emoticons would allow us to give an emotional response, are little cartoon character faces the best way to go about that? Looks like time will tell. Currently the emoji “reaction” option is still in test phase, with the testing audience set to both Spain and Ireland. As of right now there is no concrete date of when they will be available for use.

Google’s Fiber Takeover

Most of us use Google daily, whether it be looking up information on the browser, translating another language or using their navigation system to get around. Now Google’s next big venture is coating the underground of the United States in fiber cables, eventually offering us all Internet and cable.

Google started their fiber division as a concept back in 2010, and around 2012 they tested this concept in Kansas City. While Google is busy expanding their US fiber optic takeover, many hope that it may be finally hitting the Bay Area soon.

Five years after it’s conception, Google is now starting to push its fiber project, with plans to expand in California’s Silicon Valley, San Diego, San Antonio, Texas; Salt Lake City, Utah; Atlanta, Georgia; Nashville, Tennessee and parts of North Carolina. Fiber is currently available in Provo Utah, Austin Texas and in Kansas City.

So what’s the big draw to Google Fiber services? One word: Speed. You know that annoying buffering signal you sometimes get when you are streaming Netflix? With Google Fiber this is supposed to be a thing of the past. Google’s fiber touts speeds of 1000 Mbps whereas typical speeds that is currently offered by Internet providers are between 10-50 Mbps. So that is an increased speed of 50-100% faster speeds, depending on what you are currently working with. These speeds also mean downloads averaging about three seconds.

So if and when Google brings fiber to your town, how much money are they asking you to shell out every month? Basic Internet is about $25 per month for 12 months, after that initial year, basic internet is free to Google Fiber subscribers. If you want one step up to the 1000 Mbps Internet, you are looking at about $70 a month with a one year contract. This is a comparable price to what large cable companies like Comcast currently charge for high bandwidth Internet. If you want Internet and cable together, the cost goes up to $130 a month, with 150 HD channels offered. So all in all Google is offering some affordable plans with their super fast Internet. So when might it reach your town?

It was surprising to many that Google chose not to unleash their first round of fiber in the Bay Area as they normally do. One of the reasons for this may be that Google has to go in and rip up a lot of roads in order to install these fiber cables. This task is a lot easier done in areas where roads are already in less than ideal condition, because roads must be ripped up to bury the cables. That means that once the roads are ripped up where cables can be easily buried, then re-paving is easy because it was already needed. In its conception city of Kansas City, Google states that they laid down around 7,000 miles of fiber cables throughout Kansas’ metropolitan area. So slowly but surely Google is making it’s way around the US. In the meantime we will be patiently waiting.