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A generous Christmas gift is the reason Harper Lee got to write ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’

A generous Christmas gift is the reason Harper Lee got to write ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ – February 19, 2016 at 05:08PM

harper lee

It has just been announced that Harper Lee — the private author who wrote the classic novel “To Kill A Mockingbird” as well as the controversial prequel "Go Set a Watchman" — has died.

She was 89 years old. 

Born Nelle Harper Lee, she became famous after “To Kill A Mockingbird” became an immediate best seller after it was published in 1960. Not one year later, it would win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and go on to become one of the most-read books in schools across America.

But if it weren’t for a 1950s Christmas gift, Lee might never have written “To Kill A Mockingbird” in the first place.

Back in 1956, Lee was a ticket agent for British Overseas Airways Corporation. Like most struggling writers, she was having trouble balancing her job and finding time to write. 

She told this to her New York City friends, Michael and Joy Brown (who were also friends of Truman Capote — quite the literary circle). 

Michael was a successful "industrial musical writer" whom American corporations hired to create performances to inspire their workers. His clients ranged from DuPont to JC Penney, and he was raking in the money for songs like “The Wonderful World of Chemistry,” according to his New York Times obituary last year.

Harper Lee Young

So in 1956, the Browns’ gave Lee the best Christmas present of all: an entire year’s salary so she could take time to write whatever she wanted.

“There was an envelope on the tree, addressed to me. I opened it and read: ‘You have one year off from your job to write whatever you please. Merry Christmas,’" she wrote in McCall’s magazine in 1961.

“They assured me that it was not some sort of joke," Lee wrote. "They’d had a good year, they said. They’d saved some money and thought it was high time they did something about me.”

Lee took that time to write "To Kill A Mockingbird," which has since sold over 30 million copies worldwide and is still read in classrooms around the country. 

SEE ALSO: The 15 most-anticipated books of 2016

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‘The Daily Show’ shut down critics of Beyoncé’s Super Bowl performance

‘The Daily Show’ shut down critics of Beyoncé’s Super Bowl performance – February 09, 2016 at 04:34PM

jessica williams

"The Daily Show" correspondent Jessica Williams fired back at those who are criticizing Beyoncé’s Super Bowl halftime performance of her new song, "Formation."  

During Monday’s episode of "The Daily Show," Williams praised the release of "Formation," and its corresponding video, which took on themes of black pride and struggle.

"It was awesome because there was so much in this video about black female empowerment, but it’s not just about self-love," she said. "She calls out police brutality and the constant fear that black people have of the police. She even threw back to Hurricane Katrina."

beyonce super bowl 50Conservative pundits including Rudy Giuliani, Fox News host Stuart Varney, and Rep. Pete King have criticized the singer for her song and halftime performance, during which her dancers paid tribute to the Black Panthers and the Black Lives Matter movement. Some people have even called for a boycott.  

In a clip from Fox News, Varney asked, “Is there anything in America that can exclude race? Why is race brought in at the halftime show of the Super Bowl?”

Williams responded, “Race was brought in because Beyoncé was brought in. And brace yourself, because you might want to sit down for this, but Beyoncé is black.

"As a black person, you walk around every day constantly reminded that you are black," Williams continued. "We’re more likely to get paid less, we’re more likely to get sent to prison, and we’re more likely to win a dance competition,” she jokingly added. “What? It’s not all bad.”

She pointed out that musicians have always used their music to spread their messages, mentioning that Chris Martin, Coldplay’s lead singer, wore a Global Citizen armband during his performance to promote the fight to end worldwide poverty.

Another clip showed Giuliani saying “decent, wholesome entertainment” for Middle America was expected of halftime shows.

“First of all, are you saying you can’t talk about race issues to Middle America?" Williams said. "What are they, so delicate and unaware, and maybe so white, that Beyoncé is too much for them?”

“You know what’s right in the middle of America? Ferguson, Missouri," she said. "And furthermore, I’m sorry this wasn’t wholesome enough for you. I didn’t realize that singing about race was equivalent to Janet Jackson getting her titty pulled out at the Super Bowl. But you’re right. You know what? The fans deserve wholesome entertainment, like watching 300-pound men give each other concussions while a crowd cheers like we’re extras in the movie ‘Gladiator.’ So what is wrong with Beyoncé, everyone? Were you not entertained?”

Watch the full clip below:

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ELON MUSK: In 2 years your Tesla will be able to drive from New York to LA and find you (TSLA)

ELON MUSK: In 2 years your Tesla will be able to drive from New York to LA and find you (TSLA) – January 10, 2016 at 09:28PM

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S owners woke up this weekend with some new tricks up their sleeves.

The Elon Musk-run automaker released it latest software — version 7.1 — in an over-the-air update on Saturday. This update features several major changes to the company’s Autopilot system.

The most significant addition is the beta version of the "summon" feature, which allows the cars to enter or exit parking spots or garages without the driver in the car.

"You can summon the car from your key fob or phone through a pull-down menu, it will open the garage door, back out of the garage, close the garage door, and come to you," Musk said on a call with reporters Sunday.

Right now, the summon feature is still in experimental beta version, but Musk expects the system to become much more advanced over the next few years.

"In two years you’ll be able to summon your car from across the country," Musk said. "If your car is in New York and you are in Los Angeles, it will find its way to you."

Along the way, Musk says the car will even be able to charge itself.

Tesla’s software update comes on the heels of the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas where autonomous driving and advanced in-car software were two hot topics among automakers. 

The Tesla CEO believes autonomous driving will be technologically ready within the next 24 to 36 months.

"I don’t believe I’m being too optimistic," he added.

As for the current beta summon feature, it’s still fairly limited in what it can do. Musk referred to the current iteration as more of a remotely operated function than an autonomous one.

The current version of the summon feature requires the driver to be no further than 33 feet from the car as well as "continually monitor and maintain control of the car" when using the feature. In addition, Tesla requires that the driver only use it on private property with flat topography.

In addition, update 7.1 will allow the Tesla to self-park both parallel and perpendicular to the curb.

This update also includes new restrictions on Autopilot’s Autosteer function on residential roads or roads without a center divider. On these roads, Autosteer will be limited to the posted speed limit plus 5 mph, or 10 kph.

Musk referred this new restriction as "reasonable" for the safe operation of the car.

Another safety featured added in this update is the curve-speed-adaptation function, which gives the car the ability to scan the curve in the road ahead while in Autopilot and automatically adjust the speed based that information.

The over-the-air, or OTA, software update is a function that Tesla pioneered, and now other major automakers, such as Ford, GM and BMW, are all working to the adopt OTA updates in their upcoming cars.

In fact, BMW designer Adrian van Hooydonk told Business Insider at CES that OTA updates will allow car companies to keep pace with tech firms on the technological front. 

SEE ALSO: I drove BMW’s new prototype sports car and it felt truly bizarre

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NOW WATCH: Here’s what it’s like to drive a Tesla on the new Autopilot mode

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These Secret Netflix Codes Can Reveal Tons of Hidden Categories

These Secret Netflix Codes Can Reveal Tons of Hidden Categories – January 09, 2016 at 10:00PM

These Secret Netflix Codes Can Reveal Tons of Hidden Categories

Netflix has tons of great content, but it can be hard to find it all if you don’t know what you’re looking for. The site’s algorithms show you what it thinks you want to watch, but these codes can help you venture outside the suggested depths.

Netflix fan site What’s On Netflix has a helpful list of codes that can reveal a multitude of narrow categories and category combinations that Netflix may not readily reveal to. To manually explore a category simple enter the following URL:

http://ift.tt/1Oj1bRU

Then, replace INSERTNUMBER with one of the codes from the site below. What’s On Netflix has dozens of numbers for very specific categories, including everything from B-Horror Movies to Anime Fantasy. Check out the full list at the source link below.

The Netflix ID Bible – Every Category on Netflix | What’s On Netflix

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FanDuel is a huge Scottish unicorn that next to no one in the UK has heard of

FanDuel is a huge Scottish unicorn that next to no one in the UK has heard of – November 05, 2015 at 06:17PM

nigel eccles fanduel

Situated on the floor above the office of travel booking platform Skyscanner in Edinburgh is a billion dollar tech startup that few people in the UK have ever heard of. That company is FanDuel. 

FanDuel has been flying under the radar of most British citizens for several years while focusing almost entirely on the US fantasy sports market. However, that might not be the case for much longer.

The FanDuel platform, backed by investors at Google Capital, allows sports fans to create their own fantasy teams for that day or week’s fixtures and bet on how well they think they’ll do against their friend’s teams or the wider FanDuel community.

Since being founded in 2009, the UK unicorn has gained huge traction with American football, basketball and hockey fans in the US but the company realises there are other sports in other countries that it can profit from. Initially the company was reluctant to launch in a relatively small UK market but that might not be the case for much longer. 

Lesley Eccles, FanDuel cofounder and VP of marketing and acquisitions, said a UK launch was planned "soon," according to a story in The Herald last Saturday.

Edinburgh University, seen from Princes Street

Eccles added: "We are looking at how we take this out of America and into other countries. It is clear we still have a lot of upside and growth."

Business Insider contacted Eccles to see if she could add anything extra but she responded saying that the company’s PR team would be in contact "when the time is right."

Last December, Nigel Eccles, husband to Lesley, told Techworld that FanDuel was going to "see how the next three to six months go" before making a decision on whether to launch a fantasy football product in the UK.

At the time he said he expected Premier League fantasy football enthusiasts to use FanDuel’s platform "on top of" the season-long competitions offered by the likes of Barclays, The Telegraph and Play Togga.FanDuel screenshot

Legal battles

The possible UK expansion coincides with a number of US legal battles that FanDuel is facing.

The New York attorney general is investigating FanDuel after it was alleged that an employee at DraftKings, a rival daily fantasy sports platform, won $350,000 (£226,000) on FanDuel by using inside information. The company banned its own employees from gambling on any daily fantasy games the day after the investigation was launched. At the time it said it was also banning employees of other fantasy sites from playing on FanDuel.

National Football League player Pierre Garcon filed a lawsuit against FanDuel last week. Garcon is accusing FanDuel of running a business and making money while using player names and likenesses without proper authorisation.

Money to be made

There’s big money to be won (and lost) on FanDuel. Gambler Chris Prince has won $762,388 (approximately £494,094) on the platform, according to the company’s homepage, where he is pictured with a big smile across his face and a quote reading: "Playing a game in one day and getting paid the same day is awesome."

This year FanDuel states on its website that is expecting to pay out $2 billion (£1.3 billion) to its users. In 2014, it took $600 million (£390 million) in bets and kept $60 million (£40 million) of that as profit.

Entry fees for any given day or week vary from $5 (£3) up to $5,000 (£3,240) and the prizes can run into the millions, depending on how many people enter each competition. In order to win money, a player’s team must come top (or near the top) of the league they’ve entered. Think of it a little bit like online poker but for fantasy sports.

FanDuel Chris Prince

Believe it or not, FanDuel, which now has approximately 90 staff in Scotland and 150 in the US, struggled to raise the capital it required to grow at times, according to Techworld. It was reported that over 80 venture capitalists passed on the opportunity to invest in the company during its Series C round.

Now investors are knocking on the door, with high-profile names such as Google Capital, Time Warner Investments and Turner Sports taking part in this summer’s $275 million (£176 million) round, which brought total investment in the company up to $361 million (£234 million.)

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Web Publishing Following Chrome NPAPI Deprecation

Web Publishing Following Chrome NPAPI Deprecation – May 28, 2015 at 03:04PM

With Google about to complete the deprecation of NPAPI support in their Chrome browser, we’ve been receiving some questions about what the best options are for publishing games on the web and reaching Chrome users at the same time. Given Chrome’s wide usage, these are fair questions. NPAPI Deprecation On the off chance that you’re […]

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LG invented a crazy, bendable TV that sticks to your wall like a refrigerator magnet

LG invented a crazy, bendable TV that sticks to your wall like a refrigerator magnet – May 21, 2015 at 08:57PM

LGD_Wall Paper.3.JPG

LG wants to make mounting your TV just as easy as sticking a magnet onto your refrigerator.

At an event earlier this week, the South Korean electronics giant showcased an incredibly thin 55-inch television with a flexible screen that you can press onto your wall using magnets.

It’s just a concept, though — there’s no indication when or if a product like this will actually come to market. The purpose of the announcement was really to announce LG’s plans to focus on making OLED screens for products moving forward. 

The TV screen itself is less than a millimeter thick, according to CNET. For context, that’s about the same thickness as a paper clip. As shown in the image below, a magnetic pad holds the flexible TV screen up to the wall.

The TV itself almost looks like paper. 

LGD_Wall Paper.2

LG’s new display marks yet another concept device that showcases how flexible screens could one day be implemented into everyday products.

Both LG and Samsung have been pioneering flexible display technologies over the past several years, but we have yet to really understand why gadgets with curved screens would even be necessary in the first place. A television such as the one LG showcased earlier this week begins to answer that question a little bit.

Samsung is believed to be capable of developing a fully flexible phone by 2016, a company executive said at an investor event in New York this past November, but it’s unclear exactly what the advantages of a bendable phone would be. Both Samsung and LG have released phones with curved screens, but they haven’t really caught on with consumers. 

SEE ALSO: Samsung’s new phone with a curved screen is absolutely gorgeous, but there’s one problem

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