DESCUENTO LECTORES

Guía visual para comunicar con el color en tu web #infografia #infographic #marketing

Hola: Una infografía con una Guía visual para comunicar con el color en tu web. Vía Un saludo



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Mejora la Primera Experiencia de tu Hotel en Google Plus #infografía #infographic #socialmedia

Hola: Una infografía que nos dice: Mejora la Primera Experiencia de tu Hotel en Google Plus. Vía Un saludo



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Qué es el SEO orgánico #infografia #infographic #seo

Hola: Una infografía sobre qué es el SEO orgánico. Un saludo



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10 mitos sobre Redes Sociales #infografia #infographic #socialmedia

Hola: Una infografía con 10 mitos sobre Redes Sociales. Vía Un saludo



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Factores del éxito online de tu web #infografia #infographic #marketing

Hola: Una infografía con los Factores del éxito online de tu web. Vía Un saludo



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Why Picking Up Extra Money Through Ride-sharing May Not Be So Wise


Ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft have been in the news lately, mostly because of the controversial pricing structure and clashes with the taxi industry that these companies are trying so hard to disrupt. If all of this coverage has made you think, “Hey, I want to drive strangers around for some extra cash,” that’s possible with Lyft or the lower-end UberX service. There may be a danger that you hadn’t anticipated, though.

Let’s say that–heaven forbid–you get in a car crash while driving with a paying customer. Consumer Reports’ Car Insurance Guy points out that while Lyft drivers get excess liability insurance, that insurance does not cover injuries to you (the driver) or damage to your vehicle. Paying passengers, pedestrians, other cars? Sure.


“Well, that’s what I have car insurance for!” you might point out. Yes, you have personal car insurance. Not commercial car insurance. Most insurance policies have something that’s called a “livery exception.” That means “no hauling strangers around for pay.” You can drive your friend to the bait and tackle store when she gives you gas money, but you can’t prowl around the city with your smartphone out looking for people to drive around.


If you want to drive for one of these services, you have a few choices. You could not tell your insurer, then hope that nothing goes wrong. In the case of a crash, you could instruct your passengers to pretend to be your friends, which is fraudulent and could backfire. Your other choice is to tell your insurer that you’re doing some part-time taxi driving, and pay for a more expensive commercial policy. Would that be worth it? You would have to check with your insurance company.


Don’t risk your car insurance by operating your vehicle as a part-time taxi [Consumer Reports]




by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

Internet ha cambiado la forma de hacer turismo #infografia #infographic #tourism

Hola: Una infografía que nos dice que Internet ha cambiado la forma de hacer turismo. Vía Un saludo



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Cloud Computing en 2014 #infografia #infographic #internet

Hola: Una infografía sobre Cloud Computing en 2014. Un saludo Courtesy of: QuoteColo



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Guía para hacer llamadas a la acción (CTA) en marketing de contenido #infografia #infographic

Hola: Una infografía con una Guía para hacer llamadas a la acción (CTA) en marketing de contenido. Vía Un saludo



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MOOCs en Europa: España líder #infografia #infographic #education

Hola: Una infografía sobre MOOCs en Europa: España líder. Vía Un saludo



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Feds To Allow Tech Companies To Provide More Transparent Info On Data Requests

In a transparency report from last year, Google thumbed its nose at the federal laws that limit what can be said about national security requests.

In a transparency report from last year, Google thumbed its nose at the federal laws that limit what can be said about national security requests.



While a number of the largest websites and telecom companies have recently published transparency data detailing the number of data requests made about consumers, these companies have been very limited with regard to what they could say about federal requests that fall under the header of national security. In response to a call for more transparency from several major Internet businesses, the government is changing its restrictions.

Until now, all a company could say about national security requests was that a vague number — no specific numbers were allowed — of requests had been made. No further details, including the nature of the requests or how many requests had been fulfilled, were allowed to be shared.


But this afternoon, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Director of National Intelligence James “Clap On… Clap Off.. Clap On Clap Off, the” Clapper announced they had filed documents with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that, if approved, would give companies the ability to make slightly more detailed disclosures.


“[T]he administration is acting to allow more detailed disclosures about the number of national security orders and requests issued to communications providers, and the number of customer accounts targeted under those orders and requests including the underlying legal authorities,” explained Holder and Clapper in a joint statement. “Through these new reporting methods, communications providers will be permitted to disclose more information than ever before to their customers.”


The changes come amidst a legal challenge from Internet titans Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, and Yahoo. They had petitioned the FISC last fall for permission to disclose more information to consumers about federal data requests.


The administration says that while it maintains that the previous restrictions were perfectly legal, it “has determined that the public interest in disclosing this information now outweighs the national security concerns that required its classification.”


A letter [PDF] from the DOJ to the five companies challenging the transparency rules spells out the two ways in which a company can provide more detailed information.


The first option allows a company to give more details on the kinds of request made, but keeps the numerical limits to bands of 1,000. So a company like Facebook could now tell users about the general number of accounts affected, requests for user content, and non-content requests, but each of those categories would have to be provided as a range within 1,000. (i.e. 2,000-2,999; or 12,000-12,999).


This form of reporting may be of use to a huge company with hundreds of millions of users, where the banding isn’t that important.


A company wishing to provide that breakdown of data is allowed to release this information every six months, but there must be a six-month delay between the period covered and the data released. So the info for the first half of 2014 could not be made public until Jan. 2015.


The second form of expanded disclosures are for when a company wants to provide more precise information about the number of requests filed under the heading of national security, it would be able to get down to increments of 250 under the new rules, BUT only if it provides no additional information about requests for content. This form of reporting might be of use to a company like Verizon, which only claimed that it only received between 1,000 and 2,000 national requests in 2013. Under the proposed rule, it could give consumers a more precise number, but it could not provide any more details.


The first option would not help consumers in the Verizon example, as the total number of requests is so low that breaking down the categories would likely just result in reports that say “between 0 and 999″ for each type of request.




by Chris Morran via Consumerist

6 tendencias en Redes Sociales que no debes ignorar #infografia #infographic #socialmedia

Hola: Una infografía con 6 tendencias en Redes Sociales que no debes ignorar. Vía Un saludo



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SEPA: todo lo que debes saber #infografia #infographic

Hola: Una infografía sobre SEPA: todo lo que debes saber. Vía Un saludo



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South Carolina Home Depot Says Its Resident Cat Will Be Allowed To Stay Indefinitely


Put your paws together for Depot the Home Depot cat, everyone: Despite the recent news that management was giving her the boot from the South Carolina store where she’d live for 13 years, the store now says she can stay as long as she wants if no one comes forward to adopt her.


If Depot wants to stay, she can, a spokeswoman for Home Depot tells The State (a South Carolina newspaper, not to be confused with the ’90s TV show canceled before its time).


“Unless someone can provide her a better home, she can stay,” the spokeswoman said, effectively daring would-be adopters to provide a better home than an entire warehouse full of corners to explore that only a cat can reach.


One man who vacations in the area said he started the online petition to keep Depot in her home because he wants her to stay where she is.


“I’ve always liked having the cat in the store when I visit,” he explained. “It was always friendly. The gist of it is, would you want to be yanked out of your home where you’ve lived your whole life?”


He says he’s surprised at how much attention Depot’s plight received — basically just chalk it all up to cat + Internet = big news.


“It really took on a life of its own,” he said. “I’ve had people contact me from around the globe. A doctor in Germany offered to adopt the cat at his own expense.”


“I guess it speaks to the power of the Internet,” he added.


In theory, Depot can now stay indefinitely but ultimately Home Depot’s rep says as the cat ages, the company would like to find a “healthier, safer environment” for her elderly years.


Depot the cat can stay at SC store, Home Depot says [The State]




by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

10 predicciones tecnológicas para 2014 #infografia #infographic #tech

Hola: Una infografía con 10 predicciones tecnológicas para 2014. Un saludo



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Guía rápida para crear contenidos de valor #infografia #infographic #marketing

Hola: Una infografía con una guía rápida para crear contenidos de valor. Vía Un saludo



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Desempleo el el Mundo en 2013 #infografia #infographic #empleo

Hola: Una infografía sobre Desempleo el el Mundo en 2013. Vía Un saludo



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The Pasta Crapresse At This Restaurant Is Surprisingly Tasty

crapresse Don’t let the menu at this New York state restaurant fool you — the pasta crapresse does not live up to its name.


Because everyone needs a good chuckle on a cold Monday afternoon, Consumerist reader Kevin shares this photo of the menu at an eatery that never met a word it couldn’t mangle.


“The pasta crapresse is to die for,” Kevin tells Consumerist. “And the Meat Laaf a Side is nothing to joke about either.”


Interestingly enough, Kevin’s pal Eric noticed that of all the questionable spelling on the menu, “they managed to spell ‘chipotle’ correctly.”




by Chris Morran via Consumerist

Easy Access: Are Virtual Room Keys The Future Of Hotels?


Smartphones can do just about everything these days: handle your bank accounts, monitor your home for burglaries, and now unlock your hotel room. A chain of boutique hotels is hoping the use of virtual keys will be the next big thing in hotels.


Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. announced it will begin implementing technology to allow guests to skip check-in and open their hotel rooms with a virtual key on their smartphone at two hotels in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan and Cupertino, Calif.


Guests staying at Aloft Hotel will receive a message via a Starwood app to unlock their door with a tap or twist of their phone using Bluetooth technology, the Wall Street Journal reports.


Officials with Starwood say the new technology may be a novelty at first, but they think it will raise the bar in hotel convenience for consumers.


It’s not the first attempt to streamline check-in with technology, but it’s uncertain how successful it could be: Check-in kiosks at two Holiday Inns were pulled after guests showed a preference with talking to an actual person, which could mean we’re not quite ready to digitize everything.


Marriott International Inc. introduced mobile check-in, which allows loyalty program members to check-in using their phone, at 350 of its hotels, with another 150 hotels to be added this summer.


Officials with Starwood say they have no plans to remove traditional check-in counters from their hotels.


Smartphones to Open Doors at Some Hotels [The Wall Street Journal]




by Ashlee Kieler via Consumerist

El panorama del mundo del móvil en 2014 #infografia #infographic #marketing

Hola: Una infografía con el panorama del mundo del móvil en 2014. Un saludo When sharing be sure to include attribution to webdamsolutions.com.



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Rutas y atractivos naturales de Chile #infografia #infographic #tourism

Hola: Una infografía sobre rutas y atractivos naturales de Chile. Vía Un saludo



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76,000 Pounds Of Ribs Charred Way Before Their Time In Semi-Truck Fire

(Morton Fox)

What could’ve been. Oh, what could’ve been. (Morton Fox)



These days it would pay to have some kind of Spilled Food Alert app because seriously, it’s starting to sound like a misdirected barbecue out there: Following on the wheels of two different trucks that spewed beer and 40,000 pounds of chicken, respectively, another truck lost 76,000 pounds of ribs after catching fire over the weekend. Oh, the waste.


The beer and chicken spills in Georgia would’ve gone nicely with this most recent impromptu beef rib cookout in California.


It took authorities two hours to reopen westbound lanes of a freeway after the semi-truck’s flaming disaster, reports The San Bernardino County Sun.


The grilling started when the rear trails of the trailer went up in flames around 6 p.m. Saturday night. By the time firefighters had stopped at the store for sides (kidding, kidding), the truck had separated from the trailer, which was fully engulfed in flames.


Despite the likely disappointment of rib lovers over such a waste, firefighters said this was no ordinary truck fire.


It was just what you’d see from other fires except that there was a “wonderful BBQ beef rib odor to it,” the fire department’s report read.


The overly crispy ribs met their ultimate demise after 6,500 gallons of water was dumped on the fire to extinguish it over the course of two hours. No word on whether any attempt was made to rescue even one poor little edible rib.


76,000 pounds of beef ribs burn in Ludlow big rig fire [San Bernardino County Sun]




by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Live Dispatches From Royal Caribbean’s Barf Cruise: Passenger Takes To Reddit

Earlier today, we shared with you the news that a Caribbean cruise out of the port of Bayonne, N.J. has become a plague-wracked hellscape instead of a vacation. Well, maybe that’s overstating it a little, but things on board are unpleasant. According to the Centers for Disease Control, so far 19% of the passengers and 4% of the crew have the mysterious gastrointestinal illness. One passenger who isn’t sick (yet) took to Reddit to answer random strangers’ questions.


The cruiser chose to stay anonymous, but posted a photo of the cruise itinerary with this trip’s dates to prove where she is.


kjGWFPi


Most importantly: what is someone who’s young enough to know what Reddit is and how to access it from a cruise ship doing on a cruise ship in the first place?


The passenger’s response:



A friend convinced me. Lots of interesting destinations. Being at sea is fun and relaxing. Much of North America is also very cold right now.



That’s the truth. How’s morale on board?



Morale is not very good. For sailing in paradise, there are a lot of bad attitudes from people that don’t seem to be sick. Lots of people getting screwed with their travel plans as we are arriving two days early into Bayonne, NJ right before Super Bowl weekend. There are no hotels available anywhere.



The crew is taking their sterilization duties seriously, though. The ship seemed “very clean” before people became ill.



The crew is awesome. Lots of people working overtime to get the ship cleaned. Wiping down all the walls and handrails. I’ve seen guys go around and wipe down every deck chair. Haven’t seen one bad attitude or rude anything from any crew member.



Remarkably, she had never heard of Carnival’s Poop Cruise.



Not sure what a Poop Cruise is. Googled it and read something a ship full of dead rats. Many of the passengers of this ship are 65+ so the mood of the boat is about the same.



There is Norovirus circulating in the Northeast, and most people taking a cruise out of Bayonne are most likely from the Northeastern United States.


Compensation details aren’t finalized yet that we know of, but mostly seem to be coming in the form of discounts on future cruises. This shouldn’t dissuade passengers from ever cruising again the same way that a voyage on the Poop Cruise would,


IamA passenger on the Explorer of the Seas – cruising to NYC with a ship full of sick people. AMA! [Reddit]




by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

CFPB Outlines Common Sense Ways You Can Protect Yourself From Hacks


On the heels of yet another announcement of a consumer information hack, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has issued a consumer advisory to help consumers protect themselves and where to get help if they suspect their information has been compromised.


In recent months, data breaches have exposed millions of consumers’ information, and with the FBI issuing a warning to retailers last week on the inevitability of more hacks, the CFPB wants consumers to be vigilant.


The CFPB advisory [PDF] includes the following steps consumers can take to protect themselves from data theft:



  • Monitor accounts for unauthorized charges or debits;

  • Alert your bank or card provider immediately if fraud is suspected;

  • Follow up with the bank or card provider and maintain records;

  • Avoid scams that ask for personal information over email or by phone.


The advisory comes just after Michael’s announced that it may have experienced a data security breach.


Earlier this month, Target announced that 110 million consumers’ information may have been leaked during a hacking at the end of the year. Weeks later, Neiman Marcus announced a security breach.


Watch accounts closely when account data is hacked and report suspicious charges [Consumer Financial Protection Bureau]




by Ashlee Kieler via Consumerist

How The Adulteration Of “Italian” Olive Oil Actually Hurts Corrupt Producers

(Muffet)

What are you hiding, olive oil? (Muffet)



For an oil that has the words “extra virgin” in its name, the process of producing so-called Italian olive oil sounds like a pretty dirty business. But despite shenanigans like cutting olive oil with other cheaper oils and using olives that don’t come from Italy, corrupt producers of the stuff actually end up on the losing end of the equation.


The New York Times‘ “Extra Virgin Suicide: The Adulteration of Italian Olive Oil” interactive graphic is super neat and manages to effectively tell the twisted story from a picked olive to the finished product. If you like clicking through simply communicated ideas and learning a little more about what you’re eating by the end, you should check it out.


The first big shocker? That a lot of Italian olive oil doesn’t even use olives from Italy. And when those olives get picked in Spain, Morocco and Tunisia they’re cleaned, crushed and processed before getting shipped to Italian refineries.


But the non-Italyness doesn’t stop there: At the same port where the olives are shipped to, other shipments of soybean oil and various cheaper oils are smuggled in.


Those oils are then cut into the more expensive olive oil at the refinery, along with ingredients to make it look and taste like real olive oil.


The bottles get the “extra-virgin” stamp along with “Made In Italy” — which is legal even if the oil isn’t Italian. Somehow.


From there it arrives in places like the U.S., where the NYT says about 69% of the olive oil for sale is doctored. Despite a special branch of the Italian Carabinieri dedicated to sniffing out adulterated oil, producers are rarely prosecuted.


But karma is a bit of a you-know-what, as we all know: All that deception and fraud just leads to a flood of Italian olive oil products on the market, driving down the price of olive oil and undermining the efforts of those corrupt producers. Hurts when you shoot yourself in the foot, don’t it?




Extra Virgin Suicide: The Adulteration of Italian Olive Oil
[New York Times]




by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Would You Like Some Penis Jokes With Your Pizza?

1390843210-boners_and_4-skinsWhen a restaurant introduces a new special, they want the name to be memorable. Brothers Pizza in Cleveland and Akron, Ohio have done a masterful job with one coupon that they call their “oddest and most popular offer.” That’s the “12 boners and 4-skins” deal, where customers get a dozen chicken wings and four potato skins for $10.99. What did you think it was referring to?


Lest you think that this is some kind of mockup, it is not. They offered the same deal back in November, and put the coupon on Facebook.


1466213_477232022392516_1866290580_n


What do you get with your wings? Toppings include the pizzeria’s very own “Raging Boner sauce, which is a culmination of our Bromade hot as [Hades] hot sauce mixed with our house hot sauce.” Sounds hot.






“Boners & 4-skins:” The Pizza Shop’s Penis Pun Coupon [Cleveland Scene] (Thanks, David!)




by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

Simplified Shopping: How Costco Tricks You Into Buying More


The vast warehouse landscape that is Costco knows how suck you in and how to maximize the amount of goods you purchase on each visit. It’s what makes Costco so successful — a tried and true design focused on simplicity.


A carefully orchestrated layout, simplified offers and the perfect amount of temptation combine to make Costco one of the most successful retailers in the United States.


The designer of most of Costco’s 648 stores, Stan Laegreid laid out just why Costco is so successful in an article with Fast Company.


Laegreid likens Costco’s layout to a racetrack with a carefully choreographed dance that will lead customers past all of the warehouse’s more than 3,000 products.


The store employs low-profile shelves to allow consumers to see the expansive offerings across the store, making the three-acre warehouse seem less overwhelming. The outside of the store is rimmed with floor-to-ceiling shelves of goods, while the inside showcases home, seasonal, and lifestyle products. Fresh offerings can always be found at the far end.


Triggers, such as light bulbs and detergent, can be found throughout the store, sending shoppers on a treasure hunt, Laegreid says. While searching for toilet paper, consumers will see more of the store’s offerings, in turn creating more chances for impulse purchasing.


Another unique offering at Costco is the rotation of goods. Many of the products are only offered for a limited time, creating a sense of urgency in making the purchase.


Costco also excels at making consumers feel less anxiety on their shopping trip by offering only a few options. Instead of seven kinds of ketchup, Costco simply offers one. Less stress and anxiety parlays into value for customers, Laegreid says.


Moving beyond take-home items, Costco’s food court continues to offer a hot dog for $1.50. Laegreid notes the low price and simple choice again shows the company’s effort to provide value to the customer.


While the company has had its fair share of controversy (a recent gender-discrimination lawsuit), Costco is still getting accolades. This year, Costco was listed at 22 in the Fortune 500 and has become the fourth largest retailer in the country.


The Choreography of Design, Treasure Hunts, And Hot Dogs That Have Make Costco So Successful [Fast Company]




by Ashlee Kieler via Consumerist

Millionaire UBS CEO Wants Everyone To Stop Picking On Banks For Being Unethical


Listen, you guys. We know it makes you feel better to pick on banks for all those ethically dicey financial things like manipulating interest rates and making other questionable decisions. But the CEO of UBS wants you to cut it out, because while sticks and stones may break his bones, words will never hurt him. Sniff. Sniff.


Europe has been in the midst of a financial crisis for some time now and as such, banks are hearing a whole lot of frustrations from the public and investors. But apparently banks have been just biting their tongues and taking it. Until now.


Sergio Ermotti is the head of UBS and it sounds like his feelings have been hurt by all bank-bashing going on, reports the Wall Street Journal.


“Life is hard enough, and I think this constant lecturing on ethics and on integrity by many stakeholders is probably the most frustrating part of the equation. Because I don’t think there are many people who are perfect,” Ermotti said in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “We are far from being perfect…but it’s not going to be very helpful to be constantly bashing banks.”


Yes, life must be very hard for a millionaire CEO. But it sounds especially rough for Ermotti’s UBS, which has suffered huge losses in the wake of the financial crisis in Europe, as well as regular lambasting for things like its role in manipulating benchmark interest rates and a rogue-trading scandal.


Last May UBS provoked the wrath of angry shareholders at the annual meeting due to the comfy pay packages management was receiving even after a $2.7 billion loss.


Many believe tempting bonus packages are partly to blame for bankers making risky investments they might not otherwise make. Packages like the $26 million “golden hello” UBS paid Ermotti in 2012, the same year it fired 10,000 employees in a “cost-cutting” effort, the Financial Post previously reported.


Ermotti has been busy trying to clean things up at the bank since he arrived on the job in 2011, but it sounds like he’s having a tough go of it, due to those pesky shareholders. It’s not like anyone else is doing any better, he insists.


“When I look around, I don’t think there are many banks that can come to us and say they are the example that should be followed,” he said. And besides, the banks aren’t to blame for Europe’s economic troubles, he says.


“It’s just an absurd concept. We all see that by now it’s a little more than a financial crisis,” he explained. It’s just that the banking industry “is an easy target.”


Besides, all those troubles piling up on UBS’ and others’ doorsteps is due to just a couple of employees going rogue, and shouldn’t reflect on the industry itself.


“It’s not because you’re a banker that you’re a criminal,” he said.


Oh okay — so it shouldn’t up up to banks to get investors and the general public to trust them again. We’ve just all got to stop punishing the industry because its feelings are hurt. Got it.


UBS CEO: Bashing Banks Unhelpful to Financial System [Wall Street Journal]




by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Genetically-Modified Purple Tomatoes: Antioxidant Goodness Or Too Weird To Eat?


Although it’s not entirely clear what exactly — if any — the added health benefits of antioxidants are, one thing that’s pretty clear is that consumers are going nuts for anything with labels touting ingredients with those antioxidizing powers. A new tomato genetically modified using an antioxidant pigment to make it purple is banking on those health-conscious consumers.

Looking at the lowly red tomato and you might just think, “This fresh produce is pretty good for me but couldn’t it be better? I mean, it’s red, unlike blueberries.”


Or at least that’s what scientists who’ve cultivated this new GM tomato were basing their tomato coloring on when they injected a dark pigment known as anthocyanin, which is the antioxidant in blueberries and other plants that gives berries that purple-y blue color.


Researchers developed the purple tomato in Britain and large-scale production has started in Canada, reports the BBC. Scientists pushing the strange fruit say it could improve the nutritional value of things like ketchup to tomato sauce. Because when’s the last time you ate an entire pizza with blueberry sauce?


“With these purple tomatoes you can get the same compounds that are present in blueberries and cranberries that give them their health benefits — but you can apply them to foods that people actually eat in significant amounts and are reasonably affordable,” one researcher explained.


Some might be familiar with darker tinged tomatoes already — I had a bunch of heirloom tomatoes that ranged from dark red to almost aubergine. But for the general public: can we learn to live with purple tomatoes and purple ketchup?






Genetically-modified purple tomatoes heading for shops




by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

You Might Hate Time Warner Cable, But Would We All Be Worse Off Without It?


While Comcast might have more customers who hate it, we’d be willing to bet that Time Warner Cable is loathed by a higher percentage of its customers. Ask just about any cable-subscribing customer in NYC about the company and prepare to listen to numerous tales of screw-ups, outages, and bad billing. So some are greeting with open arms the news of TWC’s possible sale to one of its competitors. But would the disappearance of TWC just end up costing all of us in the long run?

In an opinion piece for Bloomberg, author and visiting professor in intellectual property at Harvard Law School Susan Crawford makes the case that a world where TWC is swallowed up by Charter, Comcast (or some combination of the two) would only make matters worse for all cable subscribers.


“If merger and acquisitions activity in the telecommunications realm had a soundtrack, this moment would be accompanied by the menacing bass rumble of Jaws,” writes Crawford. “For if this deal goes through, customers of TWC, Charter and also Comcast Corp. — as well as all the content companies that want to reach those customers — will probably see prices rise, with no corresponding improvement in service.”


She contends that while a company like Comcast would lower its per-customer costs by adding the millions of existing TWC subscribers to its base, that savings wouldn’t be passed on to consumers. Instead, Crawford believes the merged entity would “grind away with one price increase after another.”


As we’ve mentioned numerous times over the years, most cable companies already face little to no competition aside from satellite providers, and satellite companies may find themselves irrelevant in a few years since they do not provide Internet services that compare with what most people can get from their local cable company.


Some hold out hope that the slowly growing availability of competing fiberoptic networks will help keep cable companies in check, but the nation’s largest fiber provider, Verizon FiOS only competes in about 23% of the country, says Crawford.


Since it made public its intentions to acquire TWC, Charter (and billionaire John Malone, whose Liberty Media owns 27% of Charter) has said it could run the New York-based cable company better than its current management.


And given that TWC ranks last in customer satisfaction for cable TV and phone service, and next-to-last in Internet service, such improvements may not be hard to make.


However, Crawford contends that Charter is really looking to do two things. First, buying TWC would lower Charter’s costs for content acquisition by inheriting the better deals TWC has with the networks and cable channels. Further consolidation in the cable TV and Internet industry would mean the the remaining Charters and Comcasts of the world would be able to force better deals with content providers (though again, these savings will likely not be passed on to the consumer).


The other way in which a company like Charter would benefit from acquiring TWC, argues Crawford, is by swapping TWC-controlled markets with Comcast-dominated markets.


Charter could take the millions of current TWC customers in New York City — an area virtually untouched by Comcast — and swap those markets with Comcast’s holdings on the West Coast and in the Midwest.


The total subscriber numbers might stay the same post-swap, but such deals would create geographic continuity that doesn’t exist now. For example, Comcast currently has virtual monopolies in Philadelphia and Boston (where it’s so bad the city recently took back its right to regulate cable prices), but nothing in NYC.


If it could get control of that entire I-95 corridor, Crawford contends that it would save the company money and it could market itself better to businesses with multiple locations that currently have to deal with different cable and Internet providers in each region. Charter would then be able to do the same thing with the market it acquired in the swap.


“Both companies could lower their overhead — and raise their prices,” points out Crawford. “Both companies could charge content providers more for access to their data and TV networks and thus access to their subscribers.”




by Chris Morran via Consumerist

Single Bodywash Bottle Trying Not To Be Jealous Of Bottle Couples Selling For Less On Same Shelf

oldspicewmartbg Hear those woebegone sighs? They’re the lonely exhalations of a row of “Man-Sized” Old Spice bodywash bottles on the shelf at a Maryland Walmart. See, they’re sad because they know the discerning consumer will skip all 946 fluid ounces of “Fiji” wash for $7.47 and head straight for the two-bottle value pack with the same amount of product for only $6.97.


We can only imagine the frustrations of being a single bottle of bodywash when everyone else is all coupled up and getting off the shelf to start a better life somewhere else with someone new.


But you can’t blame customers if they want two bottles with 473 fluid ounces for a total of 946 ounces instead of sticking with that pricier, solo bottle. Two bottles are better if you have a hard time committing to just one, right?


Even the value pack says it: Two bottles at once is better. Why would you want one when you could have two? Why would anyone want the single when TOGETHERNESS WITH ANOTHER BOTTLE IS CLEARLY THE IDEA STATE OF BOTTLEHOOD. And no, the single bottle does not like to be asked when it’s finally settling down with someone else so stop reminding it it’s alone.


Reader R.R. surely felt the painful plight of the man-sized bottles when he snapped his pic at a Maryland Walmart, noting, “It’s Target math, but at Walmart!”


Poor single bottles of Old Spice bodywash. Forever alone.




by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Your Eyes Do Not Deceive You: USPS Price Hike Brings Cost Of A First-Class Stamp To $0.49


Remember when it only cost a quarter to instantly get in touch with someone from a payphone? Then we all got nostalgic when the price started creeping up, until cell phones made that fond remembrance less of misty, water-colored memory. Now it costs almost two quarters to send a less-than-instant letter or card, with the new price of first-class stamps rising from $0.46 to $0.49. Kick in, nostalgia!

While yes, email is free, there are those who still like to send a letter or card the old-fashioned snailmail way. That snail is still traveling at his same pace but is charging three pennies more to carry your missive by way of the United States Postal Service.


Of course, there is always the option of buying a bunch of Forever stamps at the current price just in case prices go up again, which they inevitably will.


It’s not like this price hike is a big shock — consumers usually get some warning when this will happen, as they did in December when regulators approved an increase first proposed in September of last year.


The last time stamps went up in price was a year ago when the USPS tacked on a penny to the $0.45 it had cost previously. Let’s hope this three-cent tick at least goes toward digging the USPS out of its $5 billion hole, although that would mean mailing a whole lot of birthday cards.


Again? First-class stamp price rises to 49 cents [Associated Press]




by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Ask Tax Dad: Send Us Your Questions For Consumerist’s Tax Columnist

TAXDADSEZIt’s almost time for W-2s and other tax documents to start winging their way from employers to our homes, and for the anxiety-inducing yearly tax season to begin. But taxes don’t have to be scary if your dad is there to help. Or, if your own dad isn’t around or doesn’t know anything about taxes, how about my dad?


Last year, Tax Dad replaced Tax Cat as our yearly columnist on tax return questions. Just who is Tax Dad? He’s John Northrup, dad of Consumerist Assistant Editor Laura Northrup, an accountant since before you were born and an IRS certified tax preparer since 1988.


Tax Dad has accounted in the military, in the corporate sector, and for a not-for-profit health care organization. He retired in 1998 and today does tax preparation and freelance bookkeeping. In his spare time (which is most of his time) he enjoys hunting, hiking, voracious reading, nature photography, and trolling Internet comments sections, including Consumerist.


Have a question for Tax Dad about your federal or state tax returns? Send it to us at tips@consumerist.com with “ASK TAX DAD” in the subject line. We’ll run the answers as soon as we can get him to stop Photoshopping pictures of wild grouse.


Disclaimer: The nature of free advice is that you often pretty much get what you pay for. Questions answered in the “Ask Tax Dad” column should not serve as a substitute for consulting a tax preparer, accountant, attorney, or certified tax cat of your very own. Tax Dad regrets that he cannot offer advice privately over e-mail.




by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

Walmart Laying Off 2,300 Sam’s Club Workers


In a move intended to thin the herd of too many assistant managers, Walmart announced over the weekend that it will be laying off 2,300 employees of its Sam’s Club warehouse stores, and that about half of those being let go are salaried assistant managers.

These layoffs only represent about 2% of the 116,000 Sam’s Club employees around the country. A rep for the company explains to the Chicago Tribune that some of its stores just had too many assistant managers.


“We’re rightsizing the number of managers per club, aligning it more appropriately to the revenue of the club,” explains the rep. Until now, most Sam’s Clubs had about the same number of employees, regardless of a particular club’s sales.


“It made things easier to manage, and there was a consistency, but we realized it was holding back some of our clubs that didn’t have enough resources and others that had too many resources,” says the company rep. “We’re trying to rebalance our resources to set ourselves up to grow more in the future.”


Since only about half of those being left go are management level, the rest of the layoffs will come from hourly employees, including some in telephone service who will be replaced by computers.


All laid-off workers will continue to get their regular salary for 60 days and will have the opportunity to apply for other jobs within the Walmart world. If an affected worker can’t find a position at Walmart, they are eligible for severance.


This is just the latest in a string of layoff announcements at large national retailers. Macy’s is cutting its workforce by 2,500, JCPenney is closing 33 stores and laying off around 2,500, and Target recently let 475 employees go at its Minneapolis headquarters.




by Chris Morran via Consumerist

Another Marlboro Man Passes Away From Smoking-Related Causes


The wife of an actor who appeared in “Marlboro man” cigarette ads and billboards has confirmed that her husband recently died at the age of 72 from respiratory failure due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), meaning he is at least the third Marlboro man to pass away from a smoking-related cause.

The actor, Eric Lawson, was featured in print ads as a Marlboro man between 1978 and 1981. His wife tells the AP that her late husband had smoked since he was 14. He later turned on his Marlboro man image with anti-smoking ads, but continued to smoke up until his COPD diagnosis.


“He knew the cigarettes had a hold on him,” she recalls. “He knew, yet he still couldn’t stop.”


The AP reports that at least two other former Marlboro men have died of smoking-related causes — David Millar died of emphysema in 1987, and David McLean succumbed to lung cancer in 1995.


The concept of the Marlboro man dates back to 1955, with the company using images of rough-and-tumble working men to sell its cigarettes in print ads, billboards, and TV (at least until TV ads were banned in 1971. In fact, in its round-up of advertising icons, AdAge credits the Marlboro man campaign with helping the company continue to grow even after the death of TV ads for cigarettes.




by Chris Morran via Consumerist

Craft Store Chain Michaels Warns Of Possible Data Breach


It may not be the household name that Walmart is, but an awful lot of people around the U.S. get their crafting supplies from the 1000+ Michaels stores around the country. Over the weekend, the retailer warned customers that it “may have experienced a data security attack.”

“We are working closely with federal law enforcement and are conducting an investigation with the help of third-party data security experts to establish the facts,” reads a letter [PDF] from CEO Chuck Rubin. “Although the investigation is ongoing, based on the information we have received and in light of the widely-reported criminal efforts to penetrate the data systems of U.S. retailers, we believe it is appropriate to notify our customers that a potential issue may have occurred.”


The store is asking customers to review their credit and debit account statements for any unauthorized charges or unexplained actions.


“If you believe your payment card may have been affected, you should immediately contact your bank or card issuer,” writes Rubin. “If we find as part of our investigation that any of our customers were affected, we will offer identity protection and credit monitoring services to them at no cost.”


Michaels customers with questions can contact the retailer at 1-877-412-7145, Monday through Saturday from 8:00 a.m. CST to 11:00 p.m. CST and Sunday

from 8:00 a.m. CST to 8:00 p.m. CST.




by Chris Morran via Consumerist