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February, 2013

Getaround Launches A New iPhone App To Simplify Peer-To-Peer Car Rentals

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Peer-to-peer car rental startup (and TechCrunch Disrupt winner) Getaround is built around the idea of helping customers to make use of cars they own, which are sitting around not being driven most of the time. Also, to help those without cars to quickly and easily gain access to one that’s sitting around going used and actually use it.

And so the startup is introducing a new iPhone app, aimed at simplifying the whole process and providing its users with better tools for finding and driving away cars nearby. The new apps was designed from the ground up, introducing new features and making the thing a whole lot faster.

For one thing, the Getaround app now allows users to browse and search for nearby cars without having to already be signed in. That will let more potential car renters to check out the service before committing to actually signing up — even if in this case ‘signing up’ means clicking on a Facebook Connect login.

Getaround has also added filters to help users find the cars they want. Notably, the app now lets you filter by the way you’ll be able to access the vehicle. Getaround has three methods of rental: There’s the traditional key hand-off method, which tends to be slower and less efficient. Then there’s the ability to access cars that have been equipped with Getaround’s carkit, which essentially enables users to unlock the doors remotely through the app. Even so, those cars still require sign off from the owner before they can be rented.

And then there’s Getaround’s quickest mode of rental, which is Getaround Instant. These are cars which are equipped with the car kit but usually managed by Getaround and can be rented at any time. Being able to filter out cars that don’t have a car kit installed generally means faster rental time — although they might be somewhat more expensive.

The app also has a totally rebuilt interface as well, including a more visually appealing map, which will also (hopefully) also be helpful in finding cars nearby. And behind the scenes, Getaround has worked on its API to make the whole thing faster and more reliable. Whee.

Getaround was founded in 2009, but really didn’t launch until May 2011. It’s now operating in five cities, including San Francisco, San Diego, Portland, Chicago, and Austin. The company raised $13.9 million in funding last summer from Menlo Ventures, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, A-Grade Investments, and Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors, as well as Collaborative Fund, SOSventures’ Sean O’Sullivan, Correlation Ventures, HotelTonight CEO Sam Shank, Yammer CEO David Sacks, Saba Software CEO Bobby Yazdani, Hoteles.com founder Matias de Tezanos, Clarity.fm founder Dan Martell, and .CO CEO Juan Diego Calle.

The Science Behind Why The White House Should Use Emoticons In Its Emails

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People who read my emails must think my parents are Mr. Rogers and double-espresso. For a very strategic reason, I write with more emotions, LOLs, and exclamation points than a Twilight chatroom: humans are prone to misinterpret text-only communications. A strategy of unmistakably positive emails could have saved the White House from its most recent crisis of having to prove it didn’t send threatening emails to journalist Bob Woodward.

The veteran political journalist is making front-page headlines after claiming that presidential economic advisor Gene Sperling threatened him over email. “I do truly believe you should rethink your comment about saying that Potus asking for revenues is moving the goal post,” wrote Sperling, in the e-mail obtained by Politico. “I know you may not believe this, but as a friend, I think you will regret staking out that claim.”

The political press is giddy with air-time-filling joy as they of overanalyze Sperling’s word choice. Was he threatening Woodward with ominous consequences for saying Obama backtracked on economic promises, or was he warning his friend that his reputation would be harmed by poor political analysis?

As the recipient of the email, Woodward has taken the all-too-common interpretation of feeling attacked. “People often think the tone or emotion in their messages is obvious because they ‘hear’ the tone they intend in their head as they write,” explained University of Chicago Psychologist, Nicholas Epley, who authored a study on how often people misinterpret emails. “People in our study were convinced they’ve accurately understood the tone of an e-mail message when in fact their odds are no better than chance.”

Epley found that compared to a phone call, participants were dreadfully bad at guessing whether a statement was sarcasm or serious.

Since we can’t use our finely tuned perception of body language to understand the disembodied medium that is email, humans tend to grasp for very poor proxies. In chat messages, for instance, users look for the speed of response to interpret the intentions of the sender. I often find myself wondering if a colleague is angry at me, if they take long a time to send a response (when, in fact, they’re usually just busy).

In some cases, like Sperling, we’re lucky enough to know how the recipient felt. More often than not, our colleagues just stew in their misinterpreted reflections, as our relationships die for unknown and completely preventable reasons.

While over-the-top happy emails can seem annoying, time-consuming and unprofessional, I’ve learned it’s the only way to avoid the dreaded misinterpretation. So, until we find a way to add emotions to our texts or beam thoughts directly from our heads, I’ll continue to correspond like a pre-teen; perhaps, the White House should too.

Jeans Change Color With Your Body Temperature


Naked & Famous jeans start off as blue when you’re cold, and the color fades to white as your body temperature warms up.

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