whiteboard on zoom
whiteboard on zoom
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What’s The Next Zoom?
While conducting a memorial service for my parents online, it dawned on me how Zoom has become synonymous with modern-day communication, especially in the past chaotic year. As people from senior citizens to kids joined the meeting, despite struggling to understand how it worked or dropping in and out of the videoconference, I wondered what else might soon connect us in new ways. What lies beyond Zoom? In today’s Daily Dose, we are looking into the future of the workplace, education and personal relationships, and the apps that help us make sense of an online world. Pallabi Munsi, Reporter 1. Zoho Meetings At a time when videoconferencing tools have become a lifeline for collaborating with managers and co-workers, data protection has been on everyone’s mind — especially with the phenomenon of “Zoom-bombing.” Zoho Meeting aims to tackle the problem with an open-source videoconferencing tool that maintains end-to-end encryption. It can also be linked with the Zoho CRM (customer relationship management) tool. The platform has its cons: There isn’t a whiteboard feature, for example. But as Zoho’s VP of Marketing, Praval Singh, tells OZY, there’s more than just one letter that differentiates Zoho from Zoom: “The videoconferencing tool is a piece of the Zoho ecosystem — so it makes your life easier from a business perspective. All of it is to ensure privacy — that’s who we are as a company.” 2. Mutable One of the hottest tech trends of the year is “edge computing,” in which hardware at the edge of a network processes data locally for cloud-connected devices — almost anything in our Internet of Things age. Then only necessary data is sent on to the cloud, which can be thousands of miles away, to improve processing speed. Founded in 2013, Mutable is on the cutting, well, edge of this trend: Self-described as “an Airbnb for servers,” the software platform runs on existing servers, prioritizing the owners’ workload while selling the rest of the server capacity. That way, it provides edge computing capability to others. 3. Hooky Wellness Work-from-home and economic stressors caused by the pandemic are catching up to us: In a July survey by job platform Monster, 69 percent of respondents reported symptoms of burnout. Detroit-based Hooky Wellness is designed to help workplace teams spot and remedy those signs quickly. Hooky has worked with Indiana University and Google, among others, and the app is just one of a suite of new products designed to tackle workplace burnout. 4. ActiveCampaign This marketing automation tool saw a surge in 2020, passing 130,000 customers and 750 global employees. Why? Because it’s leading the pack in automating customer relationship management, email targeting and other tasks to help close a sale. Key to the Chicago-based company’s success is foreign markets, including a push into Brazil. While its tools are not unique, ActiveCampaign also knows the way to its own customers’ hearts: reasonable prices. In the market for some solid shut-eye? Proper’s natural, proven sleep supplements help you fall asleep faster and slumber longer so you can awaken refreshed. Each supplement is drug-free, non-habit-forming and gentle, made with 100 percent vegan ingredients that are clinically proven to improve sleep. Try the Discovery Trial Pack and sample five unique formulas for five nights each to find the one that works best for you. For a limited time, get 10 percent off on your solution to better-quality sleep with promo code OZY. 1. LetterSchool Trying to teach young kids how to write while stuck in Zoom school can be near impossible. But this app’s engaging sounds and colors, which turn writing letters and numbers into a game, could be your ticket to making sure learning doesn’t slip. Teachers and parents have access to the controls so they can choose kids’ activities and track their progress. Plus, it’s free, unless you spring for the $3.99 per month premium version with 150-plus games and additional learning content for LetterSchool’s “proven method” for success. 2. Encantos Taking on 2020’s dual disruptions of the pandemic and the global racial justice reckoning, Encantos offers both physical and online education products in both English and Spanish for elementary-age children. The bilingual platform focuses on phonics and math, but also teaches music and social awareness via lessons and online shows. Business boomed during the pandemic, with direct-to-consumer sales up 1,400 percent as of the summer, according to CEO Steven Wolfe Pereira. 3. Peak For those who suffer from cognitive impairment to students who want to ace the SAT, this app could come in handy. The London-based brain game platform allows you to challenge friends on certain categories, and even pay for personalized cognitive workouts on the app’s premium version. It’s also a platform for researchers who have used the app to study the games’ effects on patients with schizophrenia and on attention and focus — with an eye toward helping the millions of people diagnosed with ADHD. 1. Honk If this year of isolation cries out for a new kind of texting, Honk is here to make messaging more like an actual conversation. How? On Honk, you can message people and the texts appear live as you type — there’s no Send button or saved chat history. Plus you can immediately see if someone leaves the conversation, so you’re not left hanging. If your query is urgent, hit the Honk button to get the recipient’s attention if they’re not on the app. It’s just like the way you’d ramble with your loved ones — or get up in their face when they’re looking at their phone rather than you. 2. TapeReal If, while listening to podcasts, you’re convinced you could launch your own, TapeReal (formerly known as TapeBook) could be the solution to kick-start that dream. What’s the app all about? It allows you to record “tapes” — either audio or a split-screen video chat — with your friends. You can keep the tape for personal consumption or, hear this out, share it on your feed for the world to get a glimpse of your emceeing prowess. As founder Ali Shah told Crunchbase, the app was built “to help people to rediscover and reconnect over conversations.” 3. Valence Los Angeles–based venture capitalist Kobie Fuller knows firsthand the lack of diversity in technology firms and particularly among top leadership, as only 2.6 percent of startup funding goes to Black and Latinx founders. So he created Valence, an online professional platform for the Black community to network and provide mentorship. The platform even connects Black entrepreneurs with VC firms Accel, Sequoia, GGV, First Round Capital and Upfront Ventures, among others. Now the platform is putting those lessons into practice, raising $5.25 million in August. Carlos tries to twerk. Meet the Queen Diva, Big Freedia. You may know her voice from her famous Beyoncé sample, but Freedia is credited with popularizing bounce music, a New Orleans subgenre of hip-hop known for its booty-popping beats — a far cry from her church upbringing. Don’t miss this one-of-a-kind episode. 1. Farmer’s Fridge All of us have made the mistake of depending on the unhealthy — yet easy — option of grabbing food from vending machines. But Farmer’s Fridge has a better option for you. The Chicago–based, automated fresh-food retailer ensures you get sustainably sourced salads, meal bowls and snacks from its 12-square-foot dispensing machines. Unused leftovers are donated to the needy. This week, the company plans to take its refrigerators across American airports in an effort to “revolutionize grab-and-go U.S. Airport dining,” according to CEO Luke Saunders. 2. HealthifyMe You’ve used DoorDash to order food or Zagat for restaurant recommendations, but what if, like me, you are getting conscious of your junk-food habit and lack of exercise while working from home? Enter HealthifyMe, India’s go-to app for healthy eating. This app will help you count calories, provide you with a meal plan and offer health advice via an AI fitness coach named Ria. With COVID-19 curbing the world’s gym plans, HealthifyMe is expanding rapidly and plunging into the Singapore and Malaysia markets. 3. EWG’s Food Scores Now that your food is keeping you healthy, what about the planet? This app from the nonprofit Environmental Working Group uses a complex set of algorithms to encourage you to choose food products that help you make sustainable choices. The searchable database gives EWG ratings for more than 120,000 foods and household products, covering nutrition and environmental impact while also identifying the processing methods, chemicals and additives in each product. The approach has received pushback from the grocery industry for being “misleading,” but EWG is sticking to its guns. 1. Glenn Cantave While people have been protesting on the streets for racial justice, activist and founder of Movers & Shakers NYC Cantave has joined them — but he’s also been busy developing a platform to rewrite Black and brown history in school curricula. His app has a catalog of “heroes you never learn about in school” — women, people of color, members of the LGBTQ community and more. Students use the app to select an underrepresented icon and then advance to doing assignments on them. Plus, they can take selfies with their chosen icon, download them and share. 2. Herman Chinery-Hesse Now known as the “Bill Gates of Ghana,” Chinery-Hesse began his journey into the world of fortune in an unlikely way. Back in the day, a jobless Chinery-Hesse fixed a computer for a travel agent in Accra. At the time, he sure didn’t know what lay ahead. The entrepreneur and founder of software company SOFTtribe wants Ghana to become the Singapore of Africa. And yet his latest venture reaches into the past: Afrikan Echoes, Chinery-Hesse’s new app set to launch in March, is designed to keep the African tradition of storytelling alive by preserving unpublished stories in audiobook form. 3. Georgene Huang Frustrated while searching for companies that supported and promoted women, Huang decided to take matters into her own hands by founding Fairygodboss. A kind of Glassdoor for women, it’s blossomed into one of the largest job platforms for women, millions of whom use it monthly to access job reviews, community advice, salary information and job postings. Google recently tapped the company to participate in the debut of its accelerator program for female-led tech startups.
Behind The Scenes Of A Covid-Themed Zoom Porn
“Am I masturbating with my mask on?” Cherie Deville asks, reclining on her bed. She is playing Kate, a woman so germophobic that she sanitizes her whiteboard to-do list; the Covid-19 pandemic has thrown her into overdrive, and she barely leaves the house, sleeping in goggles and retrieving her delivered groceries while in a full hazmat suit. Yet with her honey-blond hair and perfectly glossed lips, Cherie bears little resemblance to a frazzled germopobe; instead, she looks like a bustier Rita Wilson. “No, you’re not,” says Bree Mills, from her chair in her office. Via Zoom, she’s directing Deville in Future Darkly: Pandemic, the latest installment in the pornography production company Adult Time‘s (link NSFW) series of dystopian sci-fi films. “We are all shooting with our masks on, but we are not masturbating with the masks on,” says Mills. Deville nods and proceeds to enthusiastically masturbate in front of the camera, manned by two crew members, shooting one X-rated version of the scene and one R-rated version for release on YouTube, her nude body concealed underneath a sheet. Just moments earlier, she, the two crew members, and Mills were making small talk about going camping, the weirdest places Deville has had sex on camera (it’s a tie between a glacier and on the back of a truck in the middle of the Mojave) and an airplane passing by her home overhead. “One of the most important things to know about being on an adult set,” Mills tells me, “is the number of times you have to stop for airplanes.” Future Darkly: Pandemic is an experiment in Covid-era adult filmmaking, a feature-length adult movie consisting of segments that were shot either with only the aid of a skeleton crew, or entirely over Zoom. All of the performers are either solo or paired with their real-life partners, and they shot and co-produced the segments at their own homes. Mills started working on the project in late February 2020, at the very start of the pandemic, when the world was just starting to shut down and our understanding of the virus was so limited that people were Googling hazmat suits and frantically scrubbing down their groceries. She invited Rolling Stone to virtually sit in on the development of the film in the spring of 2020, and on the set that fall, to observe the remote filmmaking process, and see how directing intimacy — or, as Mills puts it on set, “s-e-x” — translates in an era when actual intimacy is prohibited. As it turns out, watching porn being made over Zoom is not dissimilar to participating in any other Zoom event: it’s mostly mundane, interspersed with the occasional moment of levity or absurdity. Later that day, I will watch Deville pretend to seduce a character called the “Free Man,” a maskless MAGA protester meets Marlboro Man, by balling up her panties, inserting them into her vagina, and stuffing them into her mouth while masturbating on a teal table. Mills is unfazed. “Hang on her while she does that so you can hear her say, ‘I want you to put your cock inside me,’ ” is the only thing she says to her sound man. “Kate and the Free Man” Adult Time “Kate and the Free Man,” as Deville’s segment is called, is one of four vignettes that make up Future Darkly: Pandemic. There’s also “Laura’s Delivery,” about a bored housewife caring for a Covid-19 patient who falls into bed with an Amazon deliveryman; “Alex and Anna,” about a couple reuniting after lockdown (complete with PPE sex); and “Anthony’s Date,” a Her-inspired tale about a lonely man who falls in love with an AI assistant. Future Darkly: Pandemic isn’t the first or only Covid-19-themed porn on the market, but it is among the more ambitious, in that it attempts to capture “the desperation of having a basic human need” — intimacy and human connection — “deprived,” says 3X West, a member of Adult Time’s writing team who worked on the treatment. Mills is a longtime industry veteran with short spiked hair and an endless supply of lightly distressed band T-shirts. As the chief creative officer for Adult Time and the mind behind what the Daily Beast refers to as “the Netflix of porn,” she produces relatively high-budget, narrative feature films, releasing R-rated versions on YouTube and X-rated versions for paying customers. “I always say I’m a lousy pornographer,” she tells me. “I just like making movies and sex is a fun subject.” Although Mills’ films are glossier and more high-end, the titles of many of her films are decidedly quotidian in the world of porn; 2020 entries on her IMDB page include “Let Me Lick Your Tits,” “In Bed With My Stepsister,” and “Lesbian Revenge Fantasies Volume 3.” Mills directed Future Darkly: Pandemic from her office in her Los Angeles home, calling into the set and providing direction remotely similar to a typical Zoom meeting, except much of the time people were having sex on the other end of the screen. (Mills will occasionally interject from her desk chair to remind her crew members to put the masks on, which they do dutifully.) Shooting the most intimate acts remotely during a pandemic “felt like the porno science fair a little bit,” says Siouxsie Q, who with Mills was the director of “Anthony’s Date.” Q shot her partner Michael Vegas as the titular character, a lonely man who falls in love with an AI assistant, played by Ana Foxxx. “There was such a spirit of experimentation. All the rules had been thrown out the window,” says Q. “Anyone who wanted to do things the old way, that wasn’t really going to fly in this new way of life post-COVID.” “Anthony’s Date” Adult Time Deville says that all things considered, the virtual shoot Mills and her crew had set up was much more like a traditional shooting experience than most of the content she’s made during the pandemic. “All the other at-home shoots were more, ‘Here’s what we’d like you to do, here’s what app we need you to use on your cell phone, here are the things you need,’ ” she told me in December. “This shoot at least felt closer to what we’d done pre-Covid, in that I had an actual director.” Over the past eight months, the industry has changed dramatically. At the start of the pandemic, a months-long moratorium imposed by the Free Speech Coalition (FSC), an industry lobbying group, shut production down immediately, causing widespread panic within the industry. At the time, insiders predicted that a shutdown would have a disastrous effect on performers, the vast majority of whom are independent contractors and do not have health care or other benefits upon which to rely if they are unemployed. Yet as the pandemic has raged on, something surprising has happened: those at the upper echelons of the industry — the producers, directors, distributors, and people who have traditionally held the most power in the industry — have floundered, while performers have thrived. “The pandemic really slapped the studios in the face,” says Mills. “But it didn’t stop the performers with the assets they had built, the fan bases they had built, and the ability to provide content for their audiences.” With many studios on hiatus from shooting due to a resurgence in cases, performers are pivoting to making solo content at home and selling it on subscription content sites. “If this had been back in the Nineties or early 2000s where most pornographic performers were dependent on being on-set, I’d be in trouble,” says Deville. “But now, we have our OnlyFans and our clip stores and our Pornhub accounts.” (The only types of performers who are hard to book, says Deville, are MILFs, whom she has heard from talent bookers are not working as frequently: “I do wonder if they’re worried, like, ‘we’re so old we’re gonna die [of Covid],'” she says, jokingly.) “Alex and Anna” Adult Time Jake Adams, a compact adult performer who resembles a young Robert De Niro, plays a delivery person in “Laura’s Delivery,” featuring his partner Scarlett Scandal as a bored housewife caring for her Covid-positive, housebound husband. For performers like Adams, who lives with Scandal and has a shoot house that he rents out to other producers, the pandemic has been nothing short of a business opportunity. “It gave me a unique opportunity to get in contact with companies to sell them some content,” he says. “People were in desperate need so they were buying it like crazy.” Siouxsie has had a similar experience, referring to this period as a “renaissance” in the adult industry for performers and small, independent content creators. “This has been an opportunity for independent content producers and activists like myself to really step forward and be producers in a real way. We have ultimate control over a set now,” she says. “When I’m walking onto a set, it’s my set. I have the ability to provide the PPE and be in control of that and who exactly is on my set, and that was something we didn’t have before. We weren’t having big studios come to us and be like OK, will you please shoot for us? It’s really in the best interest of these companies to come to these performers and give them the autonomy they’ve been asking for for generations.” Of course, this trend does not apply to all performers; those who haven’t built substantive online followings continue to work with studios that are still using traditional in-person shooting methods, albeit with PPE, scaled-back crew, and testing at least 24 hours in advance. Yet some performers like Deville are not comfortable with these safeguards, due to rifts in internal testing systems and a lack of faith in other performers’ quarantine habits. “Even just looking at some people’s Instagrams you can tell they’re out and about, and I can’t control the social life of the entire industry,” she says. Fortunately for her, she has a large enough fanbase and sufficient name recognition that she makes a decent amount of money producing her own content, and theoretically would never have to shoot for a studio again. “It’s not so much the direct income of shooting i want or even need,” she says. “It’s more that it keeps me relevant in the pornographic market.” With such a seismic shift going on within the industry, production companies like Adult Time are obviously not in prime position to make money right now. But Mills says she’s not particularly worried, and that projects like Pandemic: Future Darkly provide a prime prospect to show how studios can adjust their traditional output models. “What we did with the pandemic is a perfect example of how easy it is to adapt to make something and how more opportunities can come out of it afterwards,” she says. “It’s on the studios to embrace the path forward. It’s sort of like when people started making videos on YouTube and then YouTubers were looked down upon for the establishment. Now everyone’s trying to make YouTube stuff.” Correction Tues., Jan. 26, 2021, 2:15 p.M. An earlier version of this article stated Scarlit Scandal’s last name was Siren.
Jillian Dempsey Is A Star For The Boston Pride. She’s Also A Teacher. For NWHL Players, Two Jobs Is The Norm
The pandemic has forced them into a hybrid rotation: half the group physically present for two days, in the classroom with the “Work Hard and Be Nice to People” sign on the wall, while the others Zoom. Wednesday is all virtual. They take regular 10-minute breaks to recapture attention. “We always hit the ground running,” Dempsey said. “I have high expectations for my students. I’m actually very impressed by how they’ve adjusted to this crazy year. We focus on the situation not being ideal for learning, not being all together in the classroom, but we need to make growth, not excuses.” Dempsey, the Boston Pride captain and NWHL career scoring leader, is in her eighth year as a professional hockey center and sixth year of teaching. She has one of the most densely packed schedules among her peers, spending long days in the classroom and nights at the rink, but she is not unique in working a day job. NWHL rosters list 125 players. Nearly all of them played at North American colleges, and the two who didn’t — Buffalo’s Lenka Čurmová and Iveta Klimášová — went to secondary school in Slovakia. More than half of the league played at New England schools, nearly a quarter of them in Boston, like Dempsey, who was captain at Harvard while earning a classics degree. She later got her master’s in teaching at Boston University. Full-time work is a necessity for a league where salaries range from $2,500 to $18,900 a season. In the future, the NWHL hopes to provide living wages. “That’s the goal, 100 percent,” said Pride president Hayley Moore. “But when you look at where we are at right now, it speaks volumes of their character as to what they’re doing outside the rink. Even if financially they didn’t have to work another job, I guarantee you they would all be super active in coaching or the community or their studies. They’ve all balanced those things their entire lives. This is an extension of that.” A few players have taken a two-week respite to focus on the Isobel Cup, but most everyone in Lake Placid, N.Y., is still on the clock before puck drop. While Dempsey was helping her students — one of her most-avid bookworms, she proudly noted, has read more than 2 million words this school year — Pride defender Mallory Souliotis was virtually assisting coworkers at EMD Serono in Billerica, Mass. As a biomedical engineer, she researches cancer drugs, pushing them toward clinical trials. “I can’t run experiments from here, so I’m just trying to be as helpful as I can,” said the Acton, Mass.-raised Somerville, Mass., resident. She decided her career path at 13, when her grandmother was stricken with the first of two bouts with cancer. Souliotis, a Yale grad, is also taking online classes for her master’s in bioengineering from Maryland. Her hotel room neighbor, netminder Lovisa Selander, also wears a lab coat when she’s not in hockey gear. She works at the biotech startup Neurotech Pharmaceuticals in Cumberland, R.I. The Pride’s lineup has medical students, such as forward Sammy Davis, a BU grad who is pursuing her doctorate in occupational therapy at the MGH Institute of Health Professions, defender Briana Mastel, and forward Carlee Turner. There are special education teachers, such as forward Meaghan Rickard of Eleanor Briggs School in Warwick, R.I., and defenders Taylor Turnquist and Lauren Kelly. Others are in the finance world, such as goalie Victoria Hanson and forward Mary Parker. As Monday moved toward stick and puck o’clock, Dempsey logged off and slipped on her post-work treat, a pair of Normatec recovery boots. Teammate Jenna Rheault was still chipping away. Rheault is an occupational therapist at Hillsboro-Deering (N.H.) Elementary. The defender broke her right wrist the night before. She was resting her slinged and soft-casted arm on her laptop as she pored over documents. It was 4:15 p.M., and at Herb Brooks Arena, Toronto Six practice was off and flying. Defender Emma Greco and forward Amy Curlew carried their laptops to the ice and placed them on a table behind the bench. Greco, a business development consultant for the Canadian office supply company Ricoh, and Curlew, a marketing intern at Toronto-based Critical Mass, stayed on top of messages from coworkers and clients between breakout drills. “I had 15 minutes left in the workday,” said Greco, whose teammates include accountants (goaltender Elaine Chuli), investment bankers (forward Natalie Marcuzzi), and aspiring broadcasters (defender Lindsay Eastwood). Greco’s coworkers, she said, “are very supportive.” In addition, many of the players also coach on the side, including Pride defender Kaleigh Fratkin, who leads the Weymouth High girls’ team in addition to her marketing job at Under Armour, and forward Christina Putigna, a skills coach. The Minnesota Whitecaps have several coaches — including captain Winny Brodt-Brown, who owns Os Hockey Training and employs several of her teammates. Buffalo Beauts goaltender Kelsey Neumann is a third-grade teacher, with a Zoom diet similar to Dempsey. Coach Paul Mara said the Pride, who normally practice at Thayer Academy in Braintree, Mass., had 100 percent attendance during their training camp, which ran three to four times a week from September to January. Dempsey arrives back home in Winthrop around 11:30 p.M. During a non-pandemic season, weekend road trips take them as far as St. Paul. Next season, they will add Toronto travel to the schedule. “It’s extremely admirable,” Mara said. “You respect them immensely. They do their day jobs and they’re ready to work at night for our team. Our players lead by example, on and off the ice.” On Tuesday, when they had an 8:30 p.M. Game against Toronto, Dempsey had a pregame meal — chicken, plain pasta, and mixed vegetables — with her team at the hotel at 4:30. She arrived at the rink two hours later and followed her familiar routine: taping her sticks, rolling out, and performing a dynamic warm-up. In the final minutes of the Pride’s 2-1 loss, Dempsey fell on her left shoulder, aggravating a longstanding injury. The postgame doctor’s visit made for a late night. Back at the hotel, she ate a recovery meal of chicken and pasta, and finally drifted off close to 1 a.M. She was a bit groggy when the alarm sounded Wednesday. As always, she was on time for class. Matt Porter can be reached at matthew.Porter@globe.Com. Follow him on blog.plastic-machinery-tech.com
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