Jelly Bean Wars: Which Flavor Will Win?

Jelly beans: one of America’s greatest candies; a crisp outer layer with a soft, chewy center. One may suspect that these sweet treats are simple- after all, they’ve been around for many years and have maintained the same relative features. However, if you look deeper into their history, you’d recognize the true, hidden secret of jelly beans: they’re constantly at war.

‘How can a candy be at war?’ you might ask. The truth is more complex than you may think. If you’re imagining the tiny beans clad with armor and bearing swords, you’d unfortunately be wrong. The heart of the battle isn’t what’s on the outside, but rather what’s on the inside- which flavor of jelly beans is the best?

candystore.com has been tracking recent trends within the jelly bean world, namely how they rank based on flavor. To their surprise, the site found out that the number one ranked flavor, previously black licorice, has been replaced! But which flavor has taken the crown? None other than buttered popcorn!

With a whopping 11 states within the United States claiming they prefer buttered popcorn, black licorice is now only the favorite flavor of 8 states. A few other contenders were chocolate, orange, coconut and cinnamon.

Using data from the past 10 years, including polls and surveys of more than 12,000 candy customers, candystore.com was able to list off preferred flavors by state, allowing readers to find out which flavor holds their home state’s heart. The site also features an interactive map which displays the flavors’ ranks by state, as well as a list of the available options.

It’s hard to imagine that one of America’s favorite treats could be living such a busy life- with crazy new flavors to compete with, it would seem that jelly beans are at a constant war to win the title of the most-liked flavor in America. Will buttered popcorn keep the crown? Will black licorice rise again? Or will a new flavor rise to the top? Whatever the future holds, jelly beans will never be looked at as ‘boring’ again!

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Virtual Reality

Birds cry out in the air above you, and you glance up to see their wings stretched out, looking strange plastered against the otherwise empty sky. The wind caught beneath the birds’ wings is now blowing through grass around you, and though you don’t feel it against your skin, you are certain that it’s there. Around you are the scattered remains of a once-glorious city- the lost city of Machu Picchu. People- some locals, others tourists, pass by, pointing at the ruins with the same wonder as you. It’s hard to imagine that you’ve come all this way- all the way out to Machu Picchu…. and that’s largely due to the fact that, in reality, you haven’t left your home at all.

Imagine a new mode of living- one in which you could see and experience the world like never before. Instead of spending money on luxurious trips, you could view world wonders from your living room, completely immersed in the experience so that you feel as though you’ve really left your home.

I had the opportunity to experience this when I visited home last month. My brother greeted me with his latest “toy”- a virtual reality setup called Windows Mixed Reality that came with his new computer. Having heard a little about vr games, I was eager to try it out for myself. Instead of playing the latest horror game, however, I opted to do a tour of Machu Picchu. To my amazement, it wasn’t long before I began to feel as though I was actually there, exploring the ruins and looking around at the surrounding mountain. At times, it felt as though I could reach out and talk to the “tourists”, who were really recorded passersby that had long since left, set to repeat their motions from time to time.

To some, this may seem like a world right out of a sci-fi book. Indeed, it can be hard to imagine such capabilities, especially considering the very first tv was invented less than 100 years ago. However, with today’s technology, devices such as Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Samsung Gear VR are allowing more and more people to experience the outside world from inside their homes.

According to an article on virtual reality, the possibilities and uses of virtual reality include things such as sports, entertainment, and medicine. Defined as a three-dimensional, computer generated environment, virtual reality allows people to do all sorts of things, such as allowing trainee surgeons and firefighters to put themselves in high-risk situations in order to practice without getting hurt or making a fatal mistake.

Some speculate that virtual reality will eventually be overtaken by augmented reality, however. Citing things such as accessibility and fashion for the “downfall” of virtual reality, many are looking forward to a smaller, wireless technology, such as that displayed in Pokemon Go, a highly popular app that shocked much of the world with its augmented reality features. For that reason, there are predictions that the road for virtual and augmented reality will lead to mobile devices.

Either way, I can safely say that I look forward to the day when I can re-visit Machu Picchu from my home- only next time, I hope to feel, smell, and taste as well!

 

News Websites and the Statistics that Pave the Path.

In a world that’s becoming increasingly more viewed from a screen, many news outlets have turned to online platforms in order to maintain and increase their audience. However, with a change in structure comes a change in maintenance. As more and more prominent sites begin to enter the news circle, companies have adopted new ways of tracking, recording and examining user activity in order to compete with the growing industry.

The process of examining audience activity to better understand and adapt to subscribers is one that has proven to be beneficial and almost essential to online news outlets. For example, an article released last year details how interpreting media statistics can impact major decisions made by companies in order to bring in higher amounts of profit.

This strategy often works as an incredibly detailed comb, tracking users’ activity within websites in order to better understand their habits and desires within the news platform. This could include broader topics, such as Nielson’s monthly summary of website activity within the US, or it could be more detailed, such as using websites like Parse.ly which can track things such as video analytics.

With such expansive information at the snap of a finger, companies like Facebook, Buzzfeed, and Twitter are continually searching for ways to improve their sites. For instance, Facebook recently introduced the idea of a chatbot, something that will allow for easier access between companies and consumers. This investment by Facebook lines up with a released estimate that 1.6 billion people will become regular users of mobile messaging apps by the end of the year.

In addition to determining overall subscribers’ use of online news sources and websites, many companies are also investing in learning about web usage within specific demographics.  This information can allow companies to satisfy the needs and demands of populations within the general public, creating a more in-depth and personal relationship between the consumers and the product. However, not everyone is pleased with their information being used by big companies.

“People should be be very concerned about this, but it’s a catch 22. There’s no way we are going to survive these days without some automation tools, so people just get used to giving their information away, but they should be thinking about what data they are putting out there, starting with their social data.”

– Mikael Berner, CEO of EasilyDo (source)

Nevertheless, more and more companies today are resorting to the use of such information in order to maximize profit. Whether consumers are intentionally providing information or not, chances are their activity is being tracked one way or another.

In the end, it would appear that while the aim of improving profit for news sources remains the same, many companies are relying on newer and more advanced strategies in order to stay relevant in an ever-changing field. With the addition of data-tracking sites such as Parse.ly and Nielson, it’s becoming easier and easier for companies to access their consumers’ activity. Between evolving technology and evolving consumers, many sources are depending on these statistics to interpret the activity of users and get a leg up in the competition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Suspected DUI driver saved from police after chase

An 18-year-old male was rescued by deputies from a flame-engulfed vehicle after an intense police chase that lead to the vehicle crashing. The crash took place early Sunday morning, January 28th, and left the driver with a broken femur and lacerations. Deputies detected the smell of alcohol and marijuana coming from the suspect during the rescue, leading them to believe that the driver was possibly driving under the influence.

“This is a reminder of the types of incidents our Deputies can encounter each and every day,” said Sheriff Michael J. Bouchard. “While our Deputy had been in pursuit of the speeding suspect, it was their first instinct to risk their own lives to save this individual from a burning vehicle. If not for the quick actions of our Deputies, this individual may have not survived this incident.”

A Deputy from the Oakland County Sheriffs Department was assigned to the Orion Township Substation and was in the area around 2:30 am when the driver sped by, which initiated the chase. After failing to pull over once the police car’s sirens started, the driver lost control and flipped onto its side, eventually catching on fire.

The Deputy broke through the sunroof of the car and pulled the driver to safety. Arriving Deputies aided in the rescue, and the smell of substances was detected.

The suspect was transported to McLaren Hospital-Oakland for treatment, and has since been released. A warrant for the suspect’s blood was granted, and the incident remains under investigation pending the results.

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Photo: Oakland County Sheriff’s Office