Every Place Is the Same Now

Found on The Atlantic on Sunday, 19 January 2020
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Anywhere has become as good as anywhere else. The office is a suitable place for tapping out emails, but so is the bed, or the toilet. You can watch television in the den—but also in the car, or at the coffee shop, turning those spaces into impromptu theaters.

Nowhere feels especially remarkable, and every place adopts the pleasures and burdens of every other.

Thus all places become dull, boring and lifeless. Put your smartphone away and raise your eyes to actually see how different places can be.

I broke Giant’s handheld scanner system by only buying two things

Found on Ars Technica on Wednesday, 15 January 2020
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To cut down on abuse, there's a small, random chance of any given transaction being audited.

This system has a problem. Several, actually, but the key problem for me was that an audit requires seven items. No matter how many you actually buy.

The employee interface verified that my cart contained two (2) items. She scanned both. It verified that those two items were ones I had scanned. And then it told her that she needed to scan five more items to complete the audit, because the audit requires seven items to be scanned.

For some strange reason this sounds like a real life world story written by Monty Python: "Then shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out."

Equifax's Stock Rose More Than 50% In 2019

Found on Slashdot on Monday, 13 January 2020
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"There's still time to file a claim for a share of the $425 million that Equifax agreed to cough up after hosing almost half of the country in its massive data breach a few years ago," writes a Pennyslvania newspaper columnist, pointing victims to equifaxbreachsettlement.com.

"But unless you can prove you were an identity theft victim who lost money, or had to waste time cleaning up the mess, don't expect much of a payout. Victims are being hosed again."

The masses are dumb and forget quickly. Sad but true.

California considers selling its own generic prescription drugs

Found on Ars Technica on Friday, 10 January 2020
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“A trip to the doctor’s office, pharmacy or hospital shouldn’t cost a month’s pay,” Newsom said in a statement. “The cost of healthcare is just too damn high, and California is fighting back.”

A plan for California to sell its own drugs would “take the power out of the hands of greedy pharmaceutical companies,” Newsom said, according to the Associated Press.

Anthony Wright, executive director of the advocacy group Health Access California, told the Associated Press that “Consumers would directly benefit if California contracted on its own to manufacture much-needed generic medications like insulin—a drug that has been around for a century yet the price has gone up over tenfold in the last few decades.”

This should be the general approach. Pharma companies have raised prices for important meds in the past, just because they can.

Amazon's Biggest Threat Isn't a Huge Competitor but a Collective

Found on The Motley Fool on Wednesday, 08 January 2020
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Rather than one single powerhouse, the threat to Amazon comes in the form of hundreds of smaller e-commerce venues that can each take a tiny, collective stab at online shopping's 800-pound gorilla.

As Loren Padelford, general manager of Shopify Plus, put it: "Consumers are coming back to [retailers] and saying, 'We want to shop directly from the makers.' These acquisition channels and marketplaces aren't all what they were cracked up to be, and they aren't giving you the customer experience and relationships you want."

Finally consumers begin to realize that Amazon is not the silver bullet. It has its own huge share of scandals, from working conditions to being wasteful. Not to mention that Amazon is not really the friend of its sellers. Plus, often you get a better price if you buy directly from the maker.

Disney+ Remove Multiple Titles Including Home Alone 1 & 2 In The United States

Found on What's on Disney Plus on Thursday, 02 January 2020
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It’s common for streaming services such as Hulu and Netflix to remove content at the end of the month, however Disney has said on many occasions that titles won’t be rotating on and off. But this doesn’t look to be the case.

Eventually existing streaming deals will expire and Disney+ won’t have this problem, but right now, Disney need to be much more transparent with what is planned to be removed and when.

The entertainment industry lied. Big surprise.

Chinese start-up Mobike loses more than 200,000 bikes

Found on BBC News on Wednesday, 01 January 2020
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In 2018, it pulled out of Manchester after a series of incidents.

In China, thousands of shared bikes have ended up in huge scrapheaps, leading to questions about whether there is demand for them.

Mobike also pulled out of Newcastle and Gateshead, after some bikes were dumped in the River Tyne.

Investors have backed dockless bike companies with hundreds of millions of pounds, but the business model for them has repeatedly been called into question.

Here the theory of easy and healthy transport meets realism. It would not be surprising if this business model even creates more CO2 than having people continue to use their current method of transport.

Unintended Perk of the Online Mattress Boom: Never-Ending Free Trials

Found on Slashdot on Tuesday, 31 December 2019
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"You could literally do this and never pay for a mattress," he realized. Online mattress sales are booming in the U.S.

To entice shoppers who would otherwise prefer to test the firmness of the mattress in the showroom, many of these online upstarts offer free home trials that can run for as long as a year. The customer typically pays for the mattress up front and gets a full refund if the mattress is returned before the cutoff.

This is the same year where everybody talks about protecting the environment, reducing waste and emissions. Then you have leeches like those people who just abuse the system to save money and create piles of trash, torpedoing he efforts of all others.

Fox News Is Now a Threat to National Security

Found on Wired on Thursday, 26 December 2019
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Fox News’ viewers evidently were not to be told those hard truths—they were to be kept thinking that everything in their self-selected filter bubble was just peachy keen.

Fox’s bubble reality creates a situation where it’s impossible to have the conversations and debate necessary to function as a democracy. Facts that are inconvenient to President Trump simply disappear down Fox News’ “memory hole,” as thoroughly as George Orwell could have imagined in 1984.

When in doubt, assume both sides are lying to some degree. Sadly, that's mostly the truth.

Mysterious drones flying nighttime patterns over northeast Colorado leave local law enforcement stumped

Found on The Denver Post on Wednesday, 25 December 2019
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The drones, estimated to have six-foot wingspans, have been flying over Phillips and Yuma counties every night for about the last week, Phillips County Sheriff Thomas Elliott said Monday.

“They’ve been doing a grid search, a grid pattern,” he said. “They fly one square and then they fly another square.”

The Federal Aviation Administration told the sheriff’s office that it had no information on the drones, and the U.S. Air Force said the aircraft aren’t theirs, Elliott said.

Even if the sheriff’s office identified the pilot or pilots of the drones, they’re likely not breaking any laws, Myers said.

Six-foot wingspans make some big drones. Still they can be relatively cheap so a dedicated individual could afford them.