Control, Alt, Google

Mountain View, CA/USA – May 21, 2018: Exterior view of a Googleplex building, the corporate headquarters complex of Google and its parent company Alphabet Inc.

There’s a popular keyboard shortcut <Control><Alt><Delete> that, generally speaking, interrupts or facilitates interrupting a function. For example, if a program on your computer hangs or crashes, you press this popular combination to force the program to close.

Today I’m coining a new term, <Control><Alt><Google>. In a nutshell, you can now tell Google to delete the data (or history) it has on / about you. In this post I want to cover three items: 1) What data is stored, 2) Why you should care about deleting it and 3) How to tell Google to delete your data.

What data does Google store (courtesy of my friends at Lifehacker)?

  • Web and app history. This includes voice and audio data from Google assistant and other apps; data collected from apps synced to your Google account; all Chrome browsing history.
  • YouTube search and watch histories
  • Google Maps history and GPS location data

Why should I care about deleting this information?

A more tangible reason is that deleting your data is helpful for up-to-date content (and ad) curation. People change, our tastes evolve, and periodically deleting your outdated content history is like giving your YouTube, Google Play, or even Google Podcast recommendations a refresh based on your current interests.

Deleting it means Google doesn’t always have enough information about you to make recommendations on what it thinks you’ll like, or where you might want to go. CNBC

How do I request Google to delete my data?

  1. Go to your Google activity dashboard.
  2. Click “Activity controls” from the left-hand sidebar.
  3. Scroll down to the data type you wish to manage, then select “Manage Activity.”
  4. On this next page, click on “Choose how long to keep” under the calendar icon.
  5. Select the auto-deletion time you wish (three or 18 months), or you can choose to delete your data manually.
  6. Click “Next” to save your changes.

Repeat the steps above for each of the types of data you want to be auto-deleted, the three noted above (Web and app history, YouTube search and watch histories and Google Maps history and GPS location data). For your Location History in particular, you’ll need to click on “Today” in the upper-left corner first, and then click on the gear icon in the lower-right corner of your screen.

Then, select “Automatically delete Location History,” and pick a time.

the social media inspired world of luxury

This post is mostly about Louis Vuitton … and how super easy it is to get sucked ALL THE WAY in. Instagram and YouTube are mostly the culprits that reel me in. One day I stumbled upon videos on YouTube of people showing off their collections (a cool way to refer to someone’s stash of designer pieces), what’s in my bag videos (what they carry on a daily basis), un-boxings (new product reveals), reviews (what they like  and don’t like ) and finally wear & tear videos (how a handbag is holding up after 1 year, etc.) Oh … you didn’t know? This is entirely a thing! I even made a couple of videos of my own (#WIMB Gucci Soho Disco, #Bag Swap … peep the actual view count from my videos… 👀).

There are hundreds of channels on YouTube (like tv stations) devoted to luxury goods. There’s one particular YouTuber, Minks4All, who produces a weekly Q&A answering all kinds of questions from users…  It’s a coordinated production! She talks about price increases, bag trends, compares bags across designers, all kinds of stuff (I watch it EVERY WEEK… she was 880k subscribers). BTW, one other term I learned watching YouTube is Small Leather Goods (SLG’s) – those are all the designer items that are not handbags (wallets, coin purses, makeup bags, key holders, etc.). And at Holiday time, you can almost always find shopping guides, like from the YouTuber Tracy Hensel. She will do about 3 videos in varying price points. JUST BEWARE OF CORPORATE SPONSORSHIPS… IF YOU LEARN SOMEONE OVER TIME AND THEY ALL OF A SUDDEN START RECOMMENDING RANDOM PRODUCTS, YOU’LL KNOW ITS PAID AND TO #IGNORE IT.

Top luxury designers are Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Gucci, Dior.

Then there’s Instagram… where one hashtag can change your life! Thinking about getting a certain bag? You can search for it and see how others are styling or wearing it, like the hashtag #lvneverfullmm for Louis Vuitton’s most popular popular tote, the Neverfull. This is how I ended up with my diaper bag, using the hashtag #totesavvy. Using social media platforms to RESEARCH before you BUY is a MUST! Long gone are they days of solely using stock photos from corporate websites to make purchasing decisions.

 

I must admit that I used to watch those videos and wonder how in the world they ended up with such large collections (so many pieces)! … until I realized that I had quite a large collection myself. The answer is either you’re rich … or it was developed over TIME (6 months to a couple of years). I’m actually thinking of posting a collection video myself 💁🏽‍♀️ 👛 (stay tuned to my YouTube Channel just in case something pops up). #pursequeen

Before I end this post, here is the complete list of YouTubers I follow: JerushaCouture (the OG), HappyStylishMommy, 408california408, Kristina BralyLuxMommy, LuxPurseLove, Just Jennifer, HaveLouisWillTravel You can find them all on Instagram as well.

Tech-assisted Black Friday Makeup Haul

I spent a couple of hours on Black Friday in a single store, Sephora. If you’re a girly girl this place really can feel like heaven on earth and it is EASY to spend HOURS mulling over the thousands of beauty products at your fingertips. My goal here is to not talk so much about what I purchased (although I will share that); rather, I want to explain the PROCESS I use to identify and select my items BEFORE I even step a  foot into the store. So, let’s get started!

top-cosmetics-brands-in-pakistan-their-product-rate-price-imagesThere are so many makeup lines and products out there. Some great, some not so great. My theory is that every brand is not good at everything. So when shopping for makeup, my strategy is ALWAYS the same: identify the brand with the best concealer, the brand with the best foundation, the brand with the best lipsticks, and so forth. At the end of all this identifying, the result is a diverse makeup portfolio from many different lines. I never go all in with one makeup line, it just simply is not always the best choice.

My first step is RESEARCH. I will go to (mainly) saks.com AND sephora.com, search for a keyword and then sort the results by Best Sellers. You can search for “concealer” or “lipstick” or “face wash” or “foundation” or “blush” or “lip liner” or “eye liner” or “eye shadow (palette)” or whatever you need. This method is tried and true and you can VERY EASILY find out what most people are buying. Take note of each brand. I mean like literally, write it down in your planner or start a note on your phone and call it Beauty. Also read the reviews (from multiple sites) to gain maximum insight. If you REALLY want to be thorough add in searches on additional sites like beauty.com and amazon.com <== comments are most valuable!!!!!

screen-shot-2016-11-26-at-7-25-03-amNow you have a list of brands to investigate. Step two is YouTube. If you determine that lip gloss by Anastasia Beverly Hills is something you want to try, search for “Anastasia Beverly Hills lip gloss swatches” or “review of Anastasia Beverly Hills lip gloss”. There are TONS of videos with people demo’ing each and every shade 😳 for every company and talking about the product itself. I’m not joking here – Urban Decay has 100 shades of lipstick and Youtuber sonjdradeluxe has a 7 minute review of them all, watch here. Urban Decay also has an awesome app to try on all 100 shades (iOS). This is NOT uncommon! You can find swatch videos for Nars, Kylie, Urban Decay, Kate Von D, MAC, Bite and many more brands. This an important step as it will allow you to get a quick preview of all the shades in a collection to identify ones that tickle your fancy.

By this time you will have a narrowed down list of list of potentials (brands, products, shades/colors). Head on over to the Virtual Artist on Sephora’s app (iOS only). Snap a pic of yourself and try on the shade(s) you picked. This is the fun part! and time can get away from you while you’re at play. (check out the app in action below).

screen-shot-2016-11-25-at-10-03-51-pm

screen-shot-2016-11-26-at-7-44-37-amNow it’s time to hit the store and you, my friend, will be on a mission to try out, in person, the brands and shades you selected. There will be no wondering around the store aimlessly because you have done your homework and will have a better chance coming out feeling like a #winner. Why? Because it’s in the store that you will (in) validate what you think you like. While you’re there, get one of the workers to find your ColorIQ – it will recommend foundation, concealer, lipstick and more all based on your skin tone! You can even view recommendations on the Sephora app! #trulywinningnow

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Few additional tips (sorry so many, I got excited 😩):

  1. If your budget does not support a particular brand, there’s an easy fix for that. Simply Google the Brand and color followed by the word dupe. You’ll find lost of suggestions for a color that will give you a close match at a fraction of the cost. Here is one of the results that came up when I searched for “MAC lipstick dupes”
  2. I mostly stay away from product placements in magazines, like this one in InStyle. (I believe) They are almost always paid advertisements and thus, may not be your best bet. If you take a suggestion be sure to also do your homework.
  3. You can and should use this approach for any product: shoes, refrigerators, clothes, makeup, handbags, cars, you name it! Go into a purchase, especially an expensive one, as an informed shopper.
  4. If you go into a department store (i.e. Macy’s, Dillards), find the the makeup artists who DO NOT work for a particular brand, like MAC, and ask for their opinion/suggestions. They have no allegiance to a particular brand and all they need to do is sell (anything). From personal experience, they are the most objective. I know Macy’s and Dillards have these type of in-store pop-up like shops.
  5. Instagram, like YouTube, is your friend. Do watch other people trying on and talking about the thing you want to buy. You may save yourself time and money by finding out (in advance) that a lipstick is super sticky or the opening on that handbag is super small.
  6. If, after doing all your homework, you’re still unsure, ask for a sample. ESPECIALLY WITH PERFUME at Department stores.
  7. Know the store’s return policy for beauty products. In many cases, if you’re unhappy with your purchase (just like with most other items), you can return/exchange it for something else. This is why I almost always prefer to shop at Nordstrom. I know their return policy like the back of my hand!
  8. Finally, even if you have not done your homework, don’t be afraid to still hit the store anyway! Find people who look like you and ask“what brand has the best foundation?” Or whatever other question is on your mind. It’s their job to know these things!

img_0198So now on to what I bought during my Tech-assisted Black Friday Makeup haul at SephoraA grand total of 4 items: 2 lip glosses from Anastasia Beverly Hills, 1 lipstick from Urban Decay and 1 concealer from Nars – all after doing my research and all of which showed up on my ColorIQ #proudmoment. Earlier in the day I also purchased Philosphy’s Purity Made Simple One-Step Facial Cleanser to be used with my Clairsonic. Philosophy was 40% off! and Clairsonics are still 20% off, including free engraving.) #thatisall Happy researching and trying on and testing and shopping and #winning. 💁🏽💄

Music (Streaming) Business

Apple’s 15th World Wide Developer’s Conference was held today. To say that I was underwhelmed is an overstatement. As a person who owns an iPhone, iPad and Mac – I feel completely stupid and reckon this is what Avid Google / Android users have been saying for years… lack of innovation, more of the same, just in a shiny new package. Now, don’t get me wrong, I (still) love all my iDevices but this 2.5 hour event today left me thinking one thing, “Has Apple lost its way?” Or as Spotify’s CEO put it.. “Oh, ok.” (sigh)

Any who … This post is about the business (or lack thereof) of streaming music so let me get to it. There are, what I consider to be 4 key players in this space: Pandora, Spotify, Tidal and now Apple. I’m writing this post, purely based on my own thoughts (will go back and links / references later). Oh, and let me just say right up front that I don’t care really about Amazon music – it’s too hard to use on my iPhone and clearly Google Music doesn’t fit very well into my iLife. Yes, YouTube is huge on music & videos but it currently has no pay-for-play model, but there is speculation it will soon launch a pay-service as well.

So, here we go:

  • Pandora: I can’t imagine anyone pays for this service. I suspect most people who live in this space want free music and are not willing to listen to a few ads along the way – it’s like listening to radio in your car: someone else picks the order, you listed with an ad here and there. (You can indeed listen ad-free for $5 month.)
  • Spotify: My service of choice and the first company to really put streaming music on the map. To reference a marketing term I learned while pursuing my MBA, Spotify has the “first mover advantage”. In essence it is the advantage gained by the initial occupant of a market segment. To be honest, this service I think, appeals to regular people who want to listen to music without ads and are looking to have a decent mobile experience – that’s it. Fanciness not required, nor is access to “behind the scenes, exclusive content”. We like music but don’t WORSHIP artists – we’ll just take the music and go on our merry way. To provide some perspective here, Spotify has 15 million paid users! I pay my $9.99 month and go on my merry way – no hassle. And I’m likely hooked for a very long time.
  • Tidal: Recently introduced to the market, offering higher quality music than anyone else at $19.99 / month. The market here is clearly businesses / DJ’s / artists – I meant the people who are seriously into music, like a whole lot, who can actually hear the difference in higher quality music.Now, think about this – yes, Tidal has a $9.99 / month package, but really at this price point Spotify wins, if not purely on user experience. Let’s guesstimate here: Assume Tidal has 1,000,000 users who pay $19.99 / month. Now do the math: $19.99 / month * 12 months * 1,000,000 users = $2.8 billion. Is this enough to offset its lack of appeal to middle-of-the-road users? Only time will tell!
  • Apple Music: After listening to WWDC today, there’s nothing special here. I actually got really bored. I was completely underwhelmed with the “Connect” experience aimed to draw in a social element – but where’s Twitter / Facebook / Instagram integration – you know, the services people actively use today? (lacking) Beats 1 the 24/7 global radio station led by some tope industry DJ’s seemed the most fascinating but not enough for me to switch. The draw for Apple was to appeal to families: up to 6 people can list (and get their own “space” for playlists, etc. for $14.99 / month; but, Spotify came right out and said it would match that. So what is Apple’s angle? Using its’ $178 billion in cash to squeeze out its’ competition. Cue the DOJ.

These companies are focused on segmenting their not-very-unique service/offering by user group / audience / community. They are not innovating. In addition, musicians and tech companies are doing a disservice to the music industry as a whole by pitting Artist A vs. Artist B. And Apple has been widely accused of starting the downfall of the music industry all by itself by offering “cheap, digital singles. We’ve also seen the continued consolidation of the music industry down to 3 key players (Universal, Sony, Warner). Recently, PBS also reports that in 1999 the music industry was worth a $14 billion dollar industry and in 2001 it was at half that amount, $7 billion. What do you think it’s work today???

I tried Tidal because of the “oh and ah factor” – I mean Jay Z? Beyonce? Who wouldn’t dip their toe in the water? But, that thrill didn’t last long! I have no intentions of trying Apple Music, even though they are offering 3 months free (right on the heels of Spotify offering 3-months for $0.99). Why should I? I mean, the features are the same as Spotify and there will be a learning curve – no matter how small. So for Apple Music – it’s a no for me.  #SorryNotSorry (can’t you just see Apple squeezing everyone out then raising prices once they are the only player left int the game? Let’s hope Spotify can figure out a way to survive. Competition is a good thing!

Flat Twist

Today’s post is about hair because I have been STRUGGLING with my natural hair. I’ve been trying to step up my workout game which has introduced all sort of issues. Initially, I had been going to the salon to get my hair put into my favorite protective style – flat twists and shelling out around $60 each time. It always looks great and stays put for a while. The problem is that I sweat in my head A LOT when I workout and after a week or so (if I’m working out like I’m supposed to), my hair starts to smell. You may be able to live with that for a few days but eventually you start to feel icky and HAVE to wash it out. So, do I modify my budget and allocate ~$120 a month to keep my hair looking pristine (and waste HOURS of my time sitting, waiting, drying)? I’m on a (financial) mission and I think NOT! 

2strandflattwistSo, my problem is that I don’t know how to flat twist my hair. I can flat “roll” but even those never come out quite right! So, last week I started searching for a tutorial on YouTube. I found one in particular to be the easiest. I tried and #failed. I got frustrated, stopped and wore a bun all last week. Today, I tried again (2 times) and FINALLY successfully created my first flat twist! The trick is – the hair you pick up along the way will be added to each side on an alternating basis to make it even! So, if you get to a point where one twist you are holding is bigger than the other, you are doing it wrong! Your goal is to keep them symmetric and pull tight! This was the missing link/analysis I needed to “get it” and yes, I talked myself through it for the entire braid! Maybe one day I’ll be able to fly through it but for now I’ll take my time! I’ve seen many people rock nice hairstyles with 1 twist and that’s EXACTLY what I plan to do today! #proud #braider #winning

Shout out to my sister, Cecily, for encouraging me to keep practicing!