San Francisco

San Francisco prosecutors turn to AI to reduce racial bias

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — In a first-of-its kind experiment, San Francisco prosecutors are turning to artificial intelligence to reduce racial bias in the courts, adopting a system that strips certain identifying details from police reports and leaves only key facts to govern charging decisions.

District Attorney George Gascon announced Wednesday that his office will begin using the technology in July to "take race out of the equation" when deciding whether to accuse suspects of a crime.

Criminal-justice experts say they have never heard of any project like it, and they applauded the idea as a creative, bold effort to make charging practices more colorblind.

Gascon's office worked with data scientists and engineers at the Stanford Computational Policy Lab to develop a system that takes electronic police reports and automatically removes a suspect's name, race and hair and eye colors.Read more on NewsOK.com

San Francisco police union calls for chief to resign

By The Associated PressSAN FRANCISCO — The union representing San Francisco police officers demanded Saturday that its chief resign, accusing him of blaming officers for raids that he ordered to determine who leaked a police report to a freelance journalist.
Chief William Scott acknowledged Friday that the searches were probably illegal and apologized for the way his department handled the investigation, telling the San Francisco Chronicle, "I'm sorry that this happened.Read more on NewsOK.com

The Easy, Free, No-Designer-Needed Google Display Ad Builder

Getting the word out about your business is hard. We get it. Between running your business or serving a dozen clients, you’re one little hiccup away from feeling completely overwhelmed. Under all that pressure, it’s easy to either fall back on last year’s outreach plan or just do nothing and watch your competitors snap up all your potential leads.
But don’t sweat. Let’s chat about the Google Display Network (GDN).
The power of images
The Google Display Network is a massive ecosystem of websites that reaches 90% of internet users worldwide—a staggering 3.94 billion people!—where you can place display ads via your Google Ads account. Display ads allow you to include images in your ads, not just text, making them a vital tool to raise awareness for your brand.

An example of a display ad (Don’t worry—this blog post won’t explode on you.)
Why? Images both ignite interest immediately and trigger long-term memory. As Miriam Elkorchi, a member of our Customer Success team, shared at her recent WordStream Live presentation in San Francisco, our sense of sight engages 30% of our brains, in comparison to touch engaging 8% and hearing 3%. Plus, images go into our long-term memory, while words go into short-term. So if you want to raise awareness for your brand with a medium that will (a) grab people’s attention right away and (b) make them remember you, then display ads could be right for your business.
Oh, and despite the Display Network’s humongous audience, your display ads’ cost per click would be about 76% lower, on average, than on the search network. Pretty sweet, right?
As you’re very aware, the problem with using display ads to raise awareness for your business is that it kind of requires making the ads. Which requires graphic design skills. Not to mention that most rare commodity of all for small biz advertisers and agencies: time.
Hang tight. Help is on the way.
Introducing the Smart Ads Creator from WordStream
When we saw that one in four small businesses doesn’t advertise on the Google Display Network, we knew we had to help. How awesome would it be if there were a simple, easy-to-use, fun tool that would create animated display ads for you, freeing you up to run your business and go home on time?
Meet our Smart Ads Creator, a new free tool designed to empower you to create custom, animated display ads that look awesome and actually work in a matter of minutes. No designer? No time? No problem.

How does it work? Just copy and paste the URL for your website or a specific product or landing page into the Creator, tell us what you want your display ads to accomplish, and off you go!

Then, our free ad creator explores your site, snags your best images and copy, and crafts a variety of animated display ads in a wide selection of standard sizes you can use on the Display Network. If the ad preview doesn’t show you what you wanted, you can change the theme, colors, copy, images, and more.

Once you’re happy with your ads, just type in your email, and we’ll provide access to ZIP files for seven different ad sizes, ready to upload to your Google Ads account.

With the Smart Ads Creator, there’s no need to hire a graphic designer or to bother the one you’ve got. Just upload, download, and go. It’s that easy.
Let’s take a closer look at how the Smart Ads Creator can help you push toward your marketing and advertising goals.
Make HTML5 ads that are actual magic
You know what’s cool about the Smart Ads Creator? It makes ads that move.
The Smart Ads Creator generates high-quality, mobile-friendly, animated HTML5 display ads. According to one Adform study, dynamic animated ads see a 267% higher click-through-rate than their static Muggle cousins. With the Smart Ads Creator, you get ads that are ready-made not just to raise awareness for your brand, but also to drive website traffic and push you one step closer to your conversion goals.
Those of you who are familiar with Google’s native display ad builder will know that this tool lets you embed video into its otherwise static display ads. If you have the resources to create killer video content, and you already have some display advertising experience under your belt, the native Google display ad builder may be right for you. The more power to you! But otherwise, the ads produced by the native Google builder are pretty static. For the many small businesses who don’t have the resources to make videos, the Smart Ads Creator’s ability to build animated display ads is pretty magical.
Make lots of magical ads
Ask any graphic designer: The most annoying parts of the job are (a) making a thousand different versions of the same asset in different sizes or formats, and (b) making and re-making a thousand changes to an asset based on non-designers’ helpful feedback, like, “Could this banana feel more, like, banana-y?”
Guess what? The Smart Ads Creator automatically builds ads for you in seven different standard sizes to use on the Google Display Network—no manual resizing or reformatting needed. Plus, you can run the Smart Ads Creator multiple times a day to create ads for multiple websites.
And don’t forget—you can customize them as much as you want. Don’t like the graphics or text that our tech pulled from your site? You can upload your own images, swap in your own text, change the hex colors, change the theme, you name it! As soon as you make an edit, the Smart Ads Creator will refresh the ad preview so you can see your changes in real time.

Don’t like your edits? You can change it back, try something else, whatever, and it’ll automatically refresh the preview right away. There’s no limit to what you can try! So why not make it rain?

We work, you play
Which brings me to my last point: The Smart Ads Creator is fun. We do the hard part—and you do the creative part.
If you always thought that display advertising was out of reach—whether you’ve felt held back by not having access to a graphic designer or by your lack of budget—why not give this a try? Drop a URL from your website (or a client’s, if you’re an agency!) into the Smart Ads Creator and see what happens. Experiment. Play with the colors and themes. Consider what calls to action have made you click on ads, or what messaging has performed best in your search campaigns, and try some of them out.
Ready to get started? Just visit the Smart Ads Creator on our website.
Explore. Learn. Play. Who knows what amazing thing you’ll create?

Colorful Falun Gong March Brings Serious Message to San Francisco

Late in the crisp, mostly cloudless morning of Oct. 22, thousands of people took part in a march meant to help end a bloody persecution taking place in China.
While the occasion was solemn, the march put on by practitioners of the spiritual practice of Falun Gong was bright and colorful. Led by a marching band in blue uniforms, the parade featured floats, practitioners clad in yellow or wearing traditional Chinese costumes, and a drum corps in bright yellow uniforms that brought up the rear.
Many of the participants had just finished meditating at the UN Plaza before getting into formation to start the parade at 11 a.m. They then made their way from the Plaza through the commercial districts and Chinatown.
Falun Gong was first taught in China about a quarter century ago, and is now practiced in 76 countries worldwide, plus Hong Kong, a Special Administrative Region of China, and Taiwan, which is independent of China but by treaty is considered part of one China.
Also known as Falun Dafa, Falun Gong incorporates five slow-moving qigong exercises with traditional spiritual teachings based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. After its introduction to the Chinese public, Falun Gong became massively popular, with state estimates putting the number of adherents at 70 million in 1999. Falun Gong sources say the number was over 100 million, or one in 13 people in China.
Over 5,000 practitioners and supporters of Falun Gong from over 30 countries march in a parade in San Francisco on Oct. 22, 2016, bringing awareness to the practice and calling an end to the persecution in China that started on July 20, 1999. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)
The head of the Communist Party, however, became hostile towards the peaceful, apolitical group, a development that in July 1999 culminated in an all-out campaign to eradicate Falun Gong. Millions have been detained, and thousands of individual deaths in custody from torture and abuse have been verified.
Over 5,000 practitioners and supporters of Falun Gong from over 30 countries march in a parade in San Francisco on Oct. 22, 2016, bringing awareness to the practice and calling an end to the persecution in China that started on July 20, 1999. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)
More disturbingly, human rights investigators have come forth with evidence that the persecution of Falun Gong gave the Chinese regime a massive pool of living donors, to be killed on demand in a lucrative organ trade catering to both local and foreign customers.
The report “Bloody Harvest/The Slaughter: An Update,” released in June, estimates that 1.5 million transplantations whose most likely source was Falun Gong practitioners were done in the years 2000-2015. The report also concludes that in most cases transplanting one organ meant killing one donor.
Because of the total media blackout in China that obscures the scale of the ongoing persecution that Falun Gong practitioners face in China, public events like parades and rallies are crucial for raising awareness.
A woman from New York speaks to passerby about the persecution of Falun Gong in San Francisco on Oct. 22, 2016. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)
“It’s something I didn’t know about,” said retired doctor Richard Brooks, talking about the persecution. “I find it hard to understand why that would happen in the first place.”
Kathy and her husband Aaron Thompson were visiting San Francisco from Texas. “It’s very moving,” she said, saying that she had heard about Falun Gong before but didn’t know that the persecution was still continuing, or that they were victims of China’s organ harvesting industry.
Over 5,000 practitioners and supporters of Falun Gong from over 30 countries march in a parade in San Francisco on Oct. 22, 2016, bringing awareness to the practice and calling an end to the persecution in China that started on July 20, 1999. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times) Kathy and Aaron Thompson during the Falun Gong parade in San Francisco on Oct. 22, 2016. (Petr Svab/Epoch Times)
“They’re showcasing their culture while raising awareness about the persecution,” her husband said. With regard to organ harvesting, he said “the first thing I was thinking about was Hitler and what he did to the Jews.”
According to a volunteer helping organize the event, 3,000 people were in the parade, while the police counted 5,000. A Falun Gong conference is scheduled for Oct. 24, and the parade is one of several events taking place prior.
Over 5,000 practitioners and supporters of Falun Gong march in a parade in San Francisco on Oct. 22, 2016, bringing awareness to the practice and calling for an end to the persecution in China. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)
A Practitioner’s Story
Over 5,000 practitioners and supporters of Falun Gong from over 30 countries march in a parade in San Francisco on Oct. 22, 2016, bringing awareness to the practice and calling an end to the persecution in China that started on July 20, 1999. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)
Falun Gong is often spread by word of mouth.
“A parade like this is what made me start [practicing Falun Gong]” said participant Joe Knox.
He saw a parade in Los Angeles and thought: “There’s a meditation practice that’s being persecuted. Well, there must be something about this meditation practice.”
“The most profound change is huge increase in tolerance,” Knox said about how practicing Falun Gong had changed him. “So if I’m driving on a freeway, for instance, and somebody cuts me off, before I might have gotten angry and now I don’t even think about it. So a lot of the things that would normally have bothered me years ago don’t even phase me at this point.”
Joe Knox, a Falun Gong practitioner from Los Angeles. (Petr Svab/Epoch Times)
Knox used to do a lot of athletic activities, like break dancing and surfing, and suffered a lot of injuries. The lingering effects of the injuries went away after he started to practice.
“It’s almost like I have a whole new youth to work with,” Knox said. “All my joints healed up really nice. Everything feels like I have a greater sense of energy.”
As an inner-city high school teacher, he often deals with children that face big challenges and also pose big challenges to him. The increase in tolerance he’s experienced after starting to practice helps him to better do his job. “I’m able to be a support for them,” he said.
“I really feel like a sense of moral obligation to be here and feel it is an honor to be here,” he said. “Since I benefited so much from the practice, I need to be here to make sure that people know about it, that people don’t get killed for practicing it, and people realize how good it is, because it has such a bad propaganda behind it from the Communist Party [of China].”
“It’s not just a Chinese thing. It’s a global thing, a human thing.”
Over 5,000 practitioners and supporters of Falun Gong march in a parade in San Francisco on Oct. 22, 2016, bringing awareness to the practice and calling an end to the persecution in China, which started on July 20, 1999. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times) Over 5,000 practitioners and supporters of Falun Gong from over 30 countries march in a parade in San Francisco on Oct. 22, 2016, bringing awareness to the practice and calling an end to the persecution in China that started on July 20, 1999. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times) Max Chua from Malaysia came to San Francisco just to partake in Falun Gong events and to help bring awareness to the practice and to the persecution in China. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times) Over 5,000 practitioners and supporters of Falun Gong from over 30 countries march in a parade in San Francisco on Oct. 22, 2016, bringing awareness to the practice and calling an end to the persecution in China that started on July 20, 1999. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times) Over 5,000 practitioners and supporters of Falun Gong from over 30 countries march in a parade in San Francisco on Oct. 22, 2016, bringing awareness to the practice and calling an end to the persecution in China that started on July 20, 1999. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)

Over 5,000 practitioners and supporters of Falun Gong from over 30 countries march in a parade in San Francisco on Oct. 22, 2016, bringing awareness to the practice and calling an end to the persecution in China that started on July 20, 1999. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times) Over 5,000 practitioners and supporters of Falun Gong march in a parade in San Francisco on Oct. 22, 2016, bringing awareness to the practice and calling an end to the persecution in China that started on July 20, 1999. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times) Over 5,000 practitioners and supporters of Falun Gong march in a parade in San Francisco on Oct. 22, 2016, bringing awareness to the practice and calling an end to the persecution in China that started on July 20, 1999. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times) Over 5,000 practitioners and supporters of Falun Gong march in a parade in San Francisco on Oct. 22, 2016, bringing awareness to the practice and calling an end to the persecution in China that started on July 20, 1999. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)
Larry Ong and Petr Svab contributed to this report.

Ferocious wildfire devastates California mountain town

MIDDLETOWN, Calif. (AP) — Earlier this summer, this small mountain town north of San Francisco opened its modest high school to residents fleeing an unusually ferocious wildfire nearby.
Now it is Middletown itself that has been evacuated — and gutted — by another blaze that shocked firefighters with its strength and speed.
The town's small cluster of shops and cafes was spared, but behind them erratic winds sent flames zigzagging down leafy streets, torching some houses and sparing others. Read more on NewsOK.com

5 of the Hottest Places for Startups

When you think of tech startups, you think of sprawling campuses in Silicon Valley fed by venture capitalists from across the bay.
San Francisco is synonymous with fresh faced programmers with a penchant for disruptive technology. But rising costs has made San Fran a less than desirable place to get going unless you’ve recently seen an injection of a few million dollars.
Having high-profile neighbors does not make a city the best place to launch your technology career. In fact, the competitive nature of the area makes it a more difficult place to be. Instead, check out these five places that aren’t Silicon Valley that foster creative culture and add fuel to the startup fire.
1. Denver, CO and Boulder, CO
You might be surprised at the most consistent places to launch your career. Colorado is consistently ranked as one of the best places to launch a tech startup. In fact, Denver and Boulder can be found at the top of almost every list.
Colorado features affordable real estate and a relaxed lifestyle. Education is a high priority in this state and creatives make up around 29.3 percent of the area’s population. The area is also home to tech giants like Oracle, SAP and HP as well as a large number of government research groups.
Boulder itself is known for its productivity and the city has an impressive tech startup density sitting at six times the national average per capita.
2. Austin, TX
Fly a few hours south to Austin in the heart of Texas and you discover another surprising city that is full of hot startups.
Austin sits at the top of several lists. From its food scene to its creative capital, the city offers plenty of resources to entrepreneurs at lower prices than its coastal compatriots. The stable cost of living combined with no state income taxes makes Austin a great place to get started.
3. Boca Raton, FL
Boca Raton – located near other Florida startup hub, Miami – is known mostly for its white beaches and the white hair of the swarms of retirees that flock to the area. But this all quietly began to change when IBM opened its doors in the city in 1970.
Lately, IBM vets have started opening their own tech firms. The number of creative professionals currently sits at around 14.2% of the population.
4. Seattle, WA
Seattle is the home of tech behemoths like Microsoft and Amazon. This is great news for new startups because these giants attract world-class talent to the city. With Microsoft’s increasing layoffs and Amazon’s high staff turnover, there is plenty of talent to go around.
5. Global
The tech startup scene extends far beyond the borders of the United States. There are countries around the world exploding with highly innovative technology companies. Some well known companies like TransferWise, a disruptive service endorsed by Richard Branson, have surprising origins.
If you’re looking for a change of scenery, you might considered the European Union. The Netherlands was recently ranked as the most entrepreneurial country in Europe and is home to many of the global tech campuses.
If the high prices of Amsterdam are a bit much, you can check out countries like Lithuania and Estonia. These countries have high levels of creativity and incredibly low costs of living. The number of creatives enjoying new found freedom have made these places attractive for getting your startup off the ground.
If you travel a little further afield to Tel Aviv, you will find yourself in a thriving beach technology culture. The country spends more money on research and development than many other countries in the world.
Whether you want to stay close to home or go far away, remember that San Francisco may be at the center of everything but the tech world is a big one and it is worth exploring.

A Networker’s Guide to Dreamforce

With Dreamforce looming just beyond the weekend, you have a lot to prepare. You’ve got panels to consider, events to peruse, apps to pack, and that says nothing about what plans you have to help your business cut through the noise.
That said, Dreamforce isn’t just for Salesforce sensory overload. It’s also a great place to connect with people you virtually chat with all year long, meet new prospects, and lay the groundwork for exciting partnerships.
But networking at this kind of event can be a challenge the way giving career advice during an earthquake is. While your advances and conversation are welcome, the very foundation of your meeting is… a little distracting.
But it doesn’t have to be. With this quick guide, you’ll be a Dreamforce networking pro.
The Exhibition Floor Isn’t a Place to Stop and ChatWhether you’re a vendor hoping to pick up a few prospects or just someone checking out the circus, it’s not likely that you’re going to have a meaningful conversation on the exhibition floor. If you’re giving away great swag, you might get a few words in with someone you want to talk to, but generally, everyone there is caught in the current and will, at the very least, be uncomfortable if you corner them. Instead, use the opportunity to make later plans: coffee, a drink at a nearby bar/restaurant, or a meetup. This will minimize annoyances and ultimately get you to the same place.
The Third Session’s a CharmMeeting someone during sessions can be difficult because, at that point in the day, people have an agenda: to check out great products, learn new ways to be better at their jobs, and to see really famous people give keynotes. Even within a particular “track,” it can be hard to get someone to budge. Until the third session. If you see someone in multiple, back-to-back sessions, you have something to talk about and, frankly, they’re ready for a distraction. It doesn’t always work this way, but usually it gives you the opportunity to chat with someone with very similar interests and make a connection based on shared experiences.
Don’t Mistake a “Partier” for a “Networker”Some people come to Dreamforce to play hard: people leading sessions during the day, people at the top of their game, and people at the bottom. These people (2/3rds of whom are among the most desirable at Dreamforce) can be slippery, forgetful, and can cost you a whole night of networking if you aren’t careful. When interacting with one, get contact information as quickly as possible. That way, the next day, you can reach out, reiterate what was discussed, and save that connection.
Don’t Skip the PartiesThe parties thrown by different businesses at Dreamforce shouldn’t be missed. Sure, you’ll be sold to about something you may or may not care about, and sure, your feet will be tired and your heart will cry for your hotel room / ship cabin, but do not miss them. Important people will be there, relaxed people will be there, people ready to talk will be there. Instead, take a human approach. People come to these events to meet up, sure, but they’re really there to unwind. Be conversational, interested, and helpful, and you’re likely to come away from the experience with more than a few free drinks.
Shake Now, Elaborate LaterDreamforce week will be a whirlwind. You’ll make contact with a lot of people but won’t really have time to dig deep with any of them. Don’t worry about that. Make your introductions, have some quick chats, and be prepared to send dozens of emails on the flight home. Remember that the goal here is the introduction. Relationships take time, and that’s really not something you’ll have a lot of in San Francisco.
Have the Tools You NeedSo much of high-speed networking success comes from being prepared. If possible, know who you want to talk to, what you want to say, where you hope to leave the conversation. And, of course, have ample business cards and CircleBack for business card scanning and address book organization.
However you slice it, strategy and preparation are the keys to successfully networking at Dreamforce. So do your homework, make your plans, and get the tools you need to succeed.
Can’t wait to see you there!

Northern California fire destroys 400 homes, businesses

MIDDLETOWN, Calif. (AP) — Two of California's fastest-burning wildfires in decades overtook several Northern California towns, killing at least one person and destroying hundreds of homes and businesses and sending thousands of residents fleeing highways lined with buildings, guardrails and cars still in flames.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection confirmed one fatality in the wildfire north of San Francisco that raced through dry brush and exploded in size within hours. Read more on NewsOK.com

As Goes North Beach So Could Go New York

San Francisco and New York are different cities with different politics, demographics and economies, but they, more than any other two cities in America, are at the nexus of progressive histories and what are sometimes euphemistically referred to as disruptive economies. The voters of North Beach and surrounding neighborhoods will send a message in San Francisco in November, but observers in New York should take note as we move toward our own citywide elections in 2017.