What You Need to Know Today: January 5

Good afternoon, Early Risers!

Here’s what you need to know

TECH

What happens when virtual reality gets too real? Pre-orders for the Oculus Rift start tomorrow. But what’s concerning more and more people are the unknown physical and psychological consequences VR technology presents. The Wall Street Journal investigates.

Sorry not sorry. Here’s a cruel game to play next time you’re out with friends. Pull one or two of your friends aside and tell them to listen for the word “like,” in conversation. (I got this idea from an interview Conan O’Brien did with Alice Eve, here — skip to 2:39). I guarantee your ears will be bleeding by the end of the night. Not only listening to your friends’ talk, but catching yourself, too. So why would you do this? For the same reason 12,365 people have downloaded the new Gmail extension Just Not Sorry. Words and phrases like “sorry,” “I think,” and “actually,” undermine your message just like using the word “like” in place of a comma when you speak. Although Just Not Sorry is targeted to women, everyone can benefit from cleaning up their prose. If Gmail extensions are not your thing, read this.

CAREER

How small businesses can take advantage of the same legal tax loopholescompanies like Apple and Goolge use. #Longreads.

The second-most-hated man in America. The most hated man in America right now is Martin Shkreli. But there is one man you probably hate, but don’t even know it yet. His name is Andy Hildebrand. Before you read Andy’s story, let’s, for a minute, pretend like you’ve never heard a T-Pain song before. Also, recall yesterday’s career advice by Michael Zink, head of Southeast Asia for Citigroup: “If you want to stand out and you want to rise quickly, go take on a problem that needs to be fixed.” Before Andy Hildebrand became a successful entrepreneur, he solved a $500 million problem for Exxon oil. That’s what gave him the confidence to build the product we all love to hate. Read more.

Columbia House is relaunching as a vinyl subscription serviceTell all your hipster friends.

LIFESTYLE

What do the NFL and the Tour de France have in common? I know what you’re thinking — it’s not steroids… There’s a growing number of NFL “cycling nerds.” Here’s why they do it.

#vanlife Ever thought living in a van would be cool? Me neither. But there is a niche crowd of millennials doing it. Here’s how much it costs to live in a van… down by a river.

#NOWYOUKNOW

How Facebook’s News Feed algorithm really works

“Tom scribbles a list of positive integers in dry erase: 4, 1, 3, 2, 5. The simple task at hand: devise an algorithm to sort these numbers into ascending order. ‘Human beings know how to do this,’ says Tom Alison, director of engineering News Feed. ‘We just kind of do it in our heads.’ Computers, however, must be told precisely how. That requires an algorithm: a set of concrete instructions by which a given problem may be solved. The algorithm Alison shows me is called ‘bubble sort,’ and it works like this:

1. For each number in the set, starting with the first one, compare it to the number that follows, and see if they’re in the desired order.
2. If not, reverse them.
3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 until you’re able to proceed through the set from start to end without reversing any numbers.

“The virtue of bubble sort is its simplicity. The downside: If your data set is large, it’s computationally inefficient and time-consuming. Facebook, for obvious reasons, does not use bubble sort,” says Slate reporter Will Oremus. Instead, here’s how Facebook decides what goes into your News Feed.

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