Qué pensar antes de crear un blog personal o profesional #infografia #infographic #socialmedia

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Shoplet Rules The Stupid Shipping Gang Forever, Sends Me Coupon In Box Of Air Pillows

Ed ordered three big (by “big” we mean four feet by six feet) dry erase boards from They came from a vendor called Shoplet. Everything seemed fine with the transaction until a mysterious box arrived on his doorstep alongside the boards. The box was tiny, unlike the boards. What was inside? Mounting hardware? Extra erasers? Free markers? No. He opened the box and was horrified at what he found inside.

He found a cardboard coupon with a code to be used online. Nothing wrong with that…except that was the only item in the box. A cardboard coupon and some air cushions to…protect the piece of cardboard?

The box contents

Inside the Box

Worse: the air balloons themselves have “EarthAware” logos on them that brag about how the pillows themselves are made from recycled plastic.

Yes, but you save even more plastic just by e-mailing this information, or sticking it in the box. “All you need for the discount is the coupon code,” Ed wrote to Consumerist. “They could have emailed that to me, or stuck this card in an envelope and dropped it off in [the] mail. Or skipped it all together as I don’t give a rip since I don’t have an account with and the last thing I need is another online account.” Well, yeah, there’s that too.

We contacted Shoplet and they tracked down Ed’s order to find out what the heck happened here. No, it’s not a staged photo, as many people suggest for Stupid Shipping gang posts.

We can’t share the specifics of how this happened on the vendor’s end, but we can assure potential Shoplet customers that they’re just as horrified as Ed was at this packaging mishap, and are working to make sure it won’t happen again.

by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

Flickr: sus 10 primeros años #infografia #infographic #socialmedia

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Los logos oficiales de las Redes Sociales #infografia #infographic #marketing #socialmedia

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Premios Goya 2014 en Twitter #infografia #inforgaphic #socialmedia

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10 consejos para protegerte en Internet #infografia #infographic

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The Doritos Loaded Taste Test: Where Cheese Sticks And Doritos Go To Die

doritos1a If day-old, reheated cheese sticks and stale, slightly peppered Doritos had a baby it would be 7-Eleven’s new Doritos Loaded snack we told you about this morning.

It took little prodding to get me to walk the three blocks from my Consumerist nook in Washington D.C. to the 7-Eleven where a Twitter user first broke the news about the new snack.

I love cheese sticks and I love Doritos. So, what’s not to like about the new “warm cheese snack” being tested at 7-Eleven? Plenty, there is plenty not to like.


There’s probably a reason it’s just called a “warm cheese snack” and not melty, gooey goodness that God blessed us with. Because I’m not sure he’d give this concoction his stamp of approval.

At first glance Doritos Loaded looks like any other cheese stick, just in the typical Doritos’ triangular form. The anticipation was almost too much to handle, and then I took my first bite.


I was thoroughly underwhelmed and the texture – the texture was not appetizing. Then you look at the inside: just a glob of mushy cheese with a rim of Doritos color.

doritos 2

Sure there’s a hint of nacho cheese flavored Doritos and there’s something that is reminiscent of cheese. But here’s what it really tastes like: a reheated, damp cheese stick with a sprinkle of Doritos flavor and pepper.

But in no way did my package of Doritos Loaded taste anything like “Nacho Cheese Doritos dipped in queso”, as Kevin described the snack to told Yahoo.

Yahoo reports the snack hit the warmer two weeks ago and is being tested at three Washington D.C.-area 7-Elevens.

I won’t be trying the Doritos Loaded again, that is unless I’m coming home from an all-night bar crawl and in desperate need of a quick kind of-cheese snack. Maybe my palette will be more forgiving, then.

doritos loaded

by Ashlee Kieler via Consumerist

Chick Fil-A To (Eventually) Stop Using Antibiotic-Filled Chicken

In a move that could (hopefully) have a positive ripple effect on the rest of the fast food industry, Chick fil-A announced today that it will phase out the use of chickens raised using medically unnecessary antibiotics over the next five years.

Some smaller restaurants and grocery stores have previously complained that there aren’t enough chicken farms out there producing antibiotic-free poultry. Many have been calling on larger fast food and family restaurant chains to demand drug-free birds, thus forcing producers to change how they raise their chickens. A company the size of Chick fil-A making such a commitment could go a long way toward shifting the level of demand.

“A shift this significant will take some time, as it requires changes along every point of the supply chain – from the hatchery to the processing plant,” said Tim Tassopoulos, executive vice president of operations of Chick- fil-A in a statement. “Our suppliers are committed, and we pledge to have this conversion complete within five years or sooner based on supply chain readiness.”

The chain plans to provide quarterly updates on its website starting in 2015 so that interested consumers can see how much progress is being made.

For decades, poultry, pig, and cattle farmers have been providing their livestock with medically unnecessary antibiotics, often for the sole purpose of encouraging tissue growth. In some cases, the drugs were given as a prophylactic to prevent against the spread of disease in particularly confined and/or filthy conditions.

Either way, study after study has demonstrated that the over-use of these antibiotics has resulted in the development of drug-resistant pathogens. Additionally, it’s believed that these antibiotics have made their way into the systems of the humans who eat meat from these animals.

After decades of inaction — and only after a lawsuit sought to compel the agency to act on the orders of Congress — the FDA recently introduced voluntary guidelines that asked drug companies to stop selling antibiotics to farmers for non-medical uses.

Critics, including Consumerist, have pointed out that all this toothless guidance does is make farmers change the reason they buy the drugs; it has no effect on whether they are used or not.

Farm animal-related purchases account for half of the antibiotics purchased in the U.S. each year, but reps for the largest drug companies have stated that the FDA guidelines will have no significant impact on their bottom lines.

For its part, Chick-fil-A says it is asking its chicken suppliers to work with the USDA to verify that no antibiotics are administered at any point.

The folks Keep Antibiotics Working, a group that seeks to limit the use of these drugs on farm animals, says in a statement to Consumerist that it is happy with Chick fil-A’s announcement.

“In the wake of the Foster Farms Salmonella outbreak linked to antibiotic-resistant chicken, it seems ever clearer that what is good for public health is also good for business — in the long term,” says KAW, which points to the financial success of Chipotle, one of the few chains to take a stance against antibiotics. “Consumer expectations are changing, and the routine use of antibiotics to raise animals is no longer acceptable. We hope that Chick-fil-A’s transition will occur sooner than 5 years from now, and anticipate that other restaurants will follow.”

by Chris Morran via Consumerist

Mozilla Goes From Blocking Third-Party Ads By Default To Displaying Ads Within Firefox

Now with "Directory tiles"

Now with “Directory tiles”

It’s always a bit of a shocking event when the lion and the lamb go quietly walking around together like they’re meant to be together. Which is why it’s a bit of a head scratcher to hear that Mozilla — the company that ticked off the digital advertising industry by setting Firefox’s default to block third-party ads — will now be displaying ads right from inside its browser.

Last year a top lobbyist from the Interactive Advertising Bureau called Mozilla’s default block on third-party ads a “nuclear strike” on the industry, AdAge points out, but the two groups are certainly a bit friendlier now: Mozilla says in a blog post today that it’ll start selling ads that display right in the Firefox browser… and it made the big reveal at the annual IAB conference.

These ads won’t just pop up or meander alongside whichever page you’re viewing, but when a new user opens a fresh tab in Firefox they’ll see suggestions for pre-packaged content in the “directory tiles.” Before now, those spaces stayed blank until they eventually became populated with things you like and sites you’ve visited over time.

The whole shebang has been dubbed “Directory Tiles,” non-profit Mozilla writes in the post:

Directory Tiles will instead suggest pre-packaged content for first-time users. Some of these tile placements will be from the Mozilla ecosystem, some will be popular websites in a given geographic location, and some will be sponsored content from hand-picked partners to help support Mozilla’s pursuit of our mission. The sponsored tiles will be clearly labeled as such, while still leading to content we think users will enjoy.

Thus far there’s no word on which advertising partners will be jumping in with Mozilla from the start, but the company says it’s looking to date around.

“We are looking to partner with like-minded content owners and creators, such as leading publishers and curators as well as innovative advertising agencies,” a spokesperson told AdAge.

Publisher Transformation with Users at the Center [Mozilla Company Blog]

Mozilla To Sell Ads In Firefox Web Browser [AdAge]

by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Imagining The Smell Of Cake Will Actually Make You Buy More Cake, Researchers Find

Anyone who doesn’t believe that smell sells has clearly never spent a year living in an apartment immediately above a local gourmet bakery. Who can resist the smell of freshly-baked bread first thing in the morning? Nobody, that’s who. Scent is a powerful trigger.

But now science is finding that you don’t actually need to smell something for the smell-effect to entice you. Imagining that bakery will apparently make you drool just as much as standing right next to it will.

A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research (PDF) found that subjects presented with a picture of chocolate cake salivated equally when either actually handed something with chocolate cake smell, or encouraged to imagine the chocolate cake smell.

The researchers liken the effect to that of a visualization exercise, and call it “smellization.” (Yes, really.)

As the scientists found, the smellization effect cannot exist in a vacuum; it needs visual triggers. Like, say, a photo of delicious chocolate cake, and a tagline about delicious chocolate cake. Mmm, cake:

In one study, participants viewed the advertising tagline, “Feel like a chocolate cake?” Some participants were shown just the tagline and others were shown the tagline accompanied by a photo of a chocolate cake. The participants were then

asked to either smell a sachet with the fragrance of chocolate cake, imagine the scent of chocolate cake, or neither.

As the researchers expected, smelling the cake increased salivation for all participants. They did, however, note an increase in salivation in participants who viewed the advertisement containing both the photo and the tagline when the cake smell was completely removed (compared to people who just viewed the tagline).

The upshot of all that olfactory-based literal drooling? Those who do it also drool over products in a somewhat more metaphorical sense. An item for which consumers literally salivate is one they both buy and consume in larger quantities. So if you’re trying to cut back on the cookies, do yourself a favor and don’t think about how they smell next time you see an ad.

by Kate Cox via Consumerist

BLE vs NFC: el futuro del engagement móvil #infografia #infographic

Hola: Una infografía sobre BLE vs NFC: el futuro del engagement móvil. Un saludo BLE vs. NFC [infographic]Compliments of Retail Customer Experience

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Bill To Ban In-Flight Wireless Voice Calls Moves Forward

The battle for a maintaining relative amount peace and quiet on commercial airlines moved on to the next stage this afternoon after a Congressional committee voted to advance a piece of legislation that would ban the in-flight use of the “phone” part of your cellphones.

The bill, dubbed Tap, Don’t Talk, but officially called the — deep breath — Prohibiting In-Flight Voice Communications on Mobile Wireless Devices Act of 2013 would do exactly what the title implies: “prohibit an individual on an aircraft from engaging in voice communications using a mobile communications device during a flight of that aircraft in scheduled passenger interstate or intrastate air transportation.”

Introduced by Congressman Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania and co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 29 members of Congress, the legislation does include exceptions to the rule for members of the flight crew, flight attendants, and federal law enforcement officers.

Under current regulations, such a ban would be redundant, as FCC rules put in place more than 20 years ago forbid the use of wireless devices for voice or text communications during flight.

However, in December 2013 the FCC began the process of reviewing this antiquated regulation to see if it’s time to finally allow passengers to make in-flight voice calls with their wireless devices.

A poll of thousands of Consumerist readers found that only 6% of you think voice calls should be allowed without exception on planes, while nearly 76% voted that in-flight cellphone calls should continue to be forbidden.

And they weren’t alone in that sentiment. Citing concerns voiced by consumers, pilots, flight attendants and lawmakers, Transportation Secretary Anthony “Double X” Foxx issued a statement in December saying the DOT would consider a cellphone ban of its own if the FCC lifted the regulations on voice communications.

In an opinion piece for The Hill, Rep. Shuster explains his reasoning for introducing the legislation:

“We frequently find ourselves unwilling spectators to what were once private conversations. Today, when we go out to eat, jump in an elevator, or just walk down the street, we commonly run into other people who are talking on the phone. Usually, when we find ourselves forced to eavesdrop on a phone conversation that’s too loud, too close, or too personal, we can just walk away… However, for an airline passenger, walking away is not an option. When flying at 30,000 feet, there’s nowhere else to go.”

If the bill doesn’t pass, and the FAA doesn’t enact its own ban on voice communications, it would be left up to the airlines to decide whether they want to enable wireless voice calls on their flights.

While all the major carriers applauded recent FAA changes that allowed the use of wireless devices for accessing the Internet during flights, the CEOs of Delta and Southwest have said they do not want cellphone chatter on their flights.

Of course, like all airline-related matters, money talks and those opinions might change if the airline operators realize they can charge wireless users a hefty fee for being able to gab loudly with people on the ground.

In somewhat related news, the FAA clarified today that pilots’ personal use of wireless devices in the cockpit is forbidden. This announcement comes amid growing concern that some pilots are being distracted by non-work uses of the tablets and computers they now use in place of flight manuals.

by Chris Morran via Consumerist

Consejos de seguridad para Internet #infografia #infographic

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Millennials Who Chose Not To Attend College Are More Likely To Live In Poverty Than Past Generations

The always rising cost of tuition and the number of students graduating college with significant debt might be enough to turn some away from getting a college education. But a new study by the Pew Charitable Trust found that not going to college could be an even more expensive decision.

Pew’s latest research, The Rising Cost of Not Going to College, outlines a number of reason why attending college is a good investment for Millennials. Millennials are defined as those born after 1980, however, when looking at economic situations Pew surveyed those ages 25 to 32.

The earnings gap between Millennials with a college degree and those with only a high school diploma is currently the highest it’s ever been. Millennials with a Bachelor’s degree or more earn a median income of $45,500 per year. That’s $17,500 more than their counterparts with only a high school diploma. The gap is $1,720 more than it was for previous generation.

Pew Charitable Trusts

Pew Charitable Trusts

Additionally, Millennials with only a high school diploma are currently faring far worse in terms of their economic situation than those in earlier generations who chose not to attend college. The study found that 22% of Millennials with just a high school diploma currently live in poverty, while only 15% of Gen Xers with only a high school lived in poverty at the same age. The Gen Xer data is based on a survey conducted in 1995 of people ages 25 to 32.

Even with the cost of attended college on the rise, 62% of Millennials who received a Bachelor’s degree or more said going to college has paid off.

In terms of employment after college or high school, those with degrees were more likely to find their position satisfying. College-educated Millennials said they have a career path and that their education was “very useful” in preparing them for a job.

But it’s never too late to return to school. The study found that 28% of those who have not obtained a Bachelor’s degree have plans to return to school.

The Rising Cost of Not Going To College [Pew Charitable Trusts]

by Ashlee Kieler via Consumerist

Cómo lanzar tu infografía #infografia #infographic #marketing

Hola: Una infografía sobre cómo lanzar tu infografía. Un saludo Infographic Brought to you by Lean Labs

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Robot APPs #infografia #infographic #software

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Comercio electrónico hoy #infografia #infographic #ecommerce

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Make Mindless Spending Work For You With The Impulse Purchase Savings Plan

Are you looking for new ways to trick yourself into building up your savings account? Maybe you found the Four-Dollar Gas Savings Club concept appealing, but aren’t interested because you don’t own a car, or have trouble subtracting from four. Okay. Do you ever make silly impulse purchases? Maybe a different savings plan would work for you.

The Impulse Purchase Savings Plan is very simple. Whenever you make an impulse purchase, whether it’s a candy bar or an entire bar tab, you deposit the same amount of money in a savings account.

Depending on your bank, it’s probably not wise to transfer over every impulse purchase that you ever make unless you have exceptional financial restraint. Know your bank’s transfer limits, and work within them. Maybe take notes and transfer a total at the end of the week or end of the month.

You can work this plan if you use only cash, too: save the money up in an envelope and deposit it at the end of the month.

Of course, don’t go around buying stupid junk and use the savings plan to justify it. If you have an impulse purchase you can’t decide on, just go ahead and save the purchase amount and the matching amount in your savings account. A fat savings account is its own reward, right?

The Impulse Purchase Savings Plan [Debt Roundup] (via Rockstar Finance)

by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

Microbeads In Beauty Products Make Your Skin Oh-So-Soft, But Do They Harm The Environment?

Scrubbing down with your favorite exfoliating bodywash might never been the same again if you live in New York: Lawmakers there are pushing legislation that would ban the tiny plastic beads from personal hygiene products, saying the wee little things are ending up in our waterways.

New York would be the first state to outlaw microbeads in things like face wash, toothpaste and anything else used to scrub or exfoliate your body, reports the New York Times.

But when those beads wash down the sink, they manage to slip right through wastewater treatment plants. From there they end up in our nation’s waterways, like the tens of millions of’em in the Great Lakes, scientists say. Once they’re in the water they become coated with toxins, making them dangerous to any marine life that might be tempted to snack on them. They’ve also been found in rivers and the Pacific Ocean.

And who eats marine life? We do — which means that microbead you used to scrub your calloused feet could end up right back in your stomach. Yup, eww.

N.Y. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement that the proposal scheduled to go before the legislature today is “common-sense legislation that will stop the flow of plastic from ill-designed beauty products into our vital waters, preserving our natural heritage for future generations.”

Ban Sought on Microbeads in Beauty Items [New York Times]

by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Appeals Court Ruling Means Tax-Preparers Will Continue To Go Largely Unregulated

The federal government’s attempt to rein in the virtually unregulated tax-preparation industry was dealt a serious blow this morning after a federal appeals court upheld a lower court ruling that the IRS overstepped its authority by trying to require registration and testing for all tax preparers.

In 2011, the IRS created a system that would require all non-CPA tax-preparers to register and demonstrate their mastery of the topic through testing and continuing education courses. This change would apply to some 700,000 preparers in the U.S.

Before the program could launch, those opposed to the regulations sued the IRS in a U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., contending that the agency had not been given authority by Congress to institute such far-reaching rules, as its argument for claiming it had such authority was based on an 1884 statute that allows the IRS to “regulate the practice of representatives of persons before the Department of the Treasury.”

In early 2013, the court sided with the plaintiffs and stopped the IRS from rolling out these requirements, saying that whatever good was intended by the regulation effort is negated by the fact that the IRS didn’t have the authority to enforce these rules.

The IRS appealed that ruling, but today the Circuit Court of Appeals in D.C. upheld the previous ruling [PDF].

In its case, the IRS argued that paid tax-preparers are representatives of persons in their dealings with the Treasury. However, the court saw things differently, saying that preparers assist taxpayers but don’t necessarily represent them:

“The term ‘representative’ is traditionally and commonly defined as an agent with authority to bind others, a description that does not fit tax-return preparers… Put simply, tax-return preparers are not agents. They do not possess legal authority to act on the taxpayer’s behalf. They cannot legally bind the taxpayer by acting on the taxpayer’s behalf. The IRS cites no law suggesting that tax- return preparers have legal authority to act on behalf of taxpayers.”

The court cites existing IRS regulations stating that in order for someone to legally represent a taxpayer to the agency, that rep must formally obtain the taxpayer’s power of attorney, “something tax-return preparers do not typically obtain when preparing returns.”

It also points out that the IRS requires that taxpayers must still sign and submit their tax returns even when using a paid tax-preparer.

“The IRS is surely free to change (or refine) its interpretation of a statute it administers,” writes the court. “But the interpretation, whether old or new, must be consistent with the statute.”

The appeals court admitted that it may not be a bad idea to regulate taxpayers:

“It might be that allowing the IRS to regulate tax-return preparers more stringently would be wise as a policy matter. But that is a decision for Congress and the President to make if they wish by enacting new legislation.”

A 2013 report from the National Consumer Law Center found that tax preparers are effectively unregulated in 47 states, with only California, Maryland, and Oregon having any sort of requirements for being a paid preparer.

In those 47 other states, there are more regulations on being a barber than there are for being a tax-preparer.

The report also found numerous accounts of incompetence and fraud among ill-prepared tax-preparers, especially those marketing their services to lower-income Americans. Given that 70 million Americans use paid preparers every year, this is of some concern.

NCLC attorney Chi Chi Wu tells Consumerist that this morning’s appeals court ruling is “disappointing, but not unexpected. Today’s decision makes it even more important for state governments take action and pass laws regulating tax preparers, since now only the states or Congress have the power to do so.”

Depending on your age and income, there are ways to get free tax-preparation help from people who know what they’re talking about. The IRS’s VITA program provides free tax-prep assistance for people earning $52,000 or less, and its Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program assists those 60 years of age or older. Click here for information on how to find a VITA or TCE site near you.

The AARP also offers its free Tax Aide program to low/moderate-income individuals, with a focus on those 60 years of age and older. Click here for more info on that program.

by Chris Morran via Consumerist

Two Terrible People Robbed Girl Scout Selling Cookies Outside Of Grocery Store

girl_sproutsWe all eventually learn the difficult lesson that the world is out to get us and our small electronics. One young girl in Florida learned this in an unfortunate time and place: two men took off with her cell phone while she and a friend sold Girl Scout cookies in front of a grocery store.

Many of you will be asking the very important question of whether the thieves picked up any of the cookies. The sad truth is that we don’t know. The girls hadn’t counted how many cookies they had when they started selling, so they don’t know how many were left at the time of the robbery. The money was safe, and it sounds like the only thing taken was one girl’s phone. Everyone staffing the booth at the time happened to be looking down or away at the time of the theft.

Police searched the area, but couldn’t find the thieves or the girl’s phone. All of the girls are safe, though, and all of the cookies are probably safe, so that’s what is most important here.

In the meantime, mobile phone owners young and old alike should remember: God and Gap Incorporated put pockets in your pants for a reason. Use ‘em for their intended purpose, and keep your phone safe.

Girl Scout Robbed Outside Lauderdale Winn Dixie [CBS Miami]

by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

Finding An Old Mattress Within A New Mattress Is Even Worse When It’s Filled With Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are already the pests of our worst nightmares, but usually when a customer buys a brand new mattress, that fear is allayed by the fact that well, the mattress is a new one, wrapped in plastic, and thus safe from bugs. But what if some freaky mattress inception had gone on and there’s an old mattress inside the new mattress?

According to 3 On Your Side in Arizona, a woman in Phoenix was in the market for twin bunk bed mattresses and headed to a local outlet. She bought them, with a three-month warranty included and brought them home.

“The mattresses were fully covered in padding like a brand new mattress,” she says. “They had plastic coverings all over them.”

So far so good, right? Sure, for another two and a half months… and cue the awful, creepy crawly bed bug music, if such music exists:

“It was about midnight,” she remembers. “I was up with the baby and I looked over and a bug crawled across my bed. I freaked out, jumped out of bed, called an exterminator about two in the morning, had them come over.”

A pest control expert came to check out the situation and took video of what he saw — an old mattress stuffed inside the new one. What in the what? And also, bed bugs. Ick.

“I was kind of expecting it a little bit, just because when we were trying to pull them off this bunk bed they weighed about 100 pounds,” he says. “Usually a mattress that size doesn’t weight that much.”

The mattress company issued a statement to 3 On Your Side denying that such a thing could be possible.

“We categorically state this store does not have bed bugs.” In a second email, the company stuck to its guns, adding, “We purchase and sell brand new mattresses only.”

When asked how that old mattress could possibly have come to exist inside the new one, the company merely cited the bedding manufacturers they deal with, ostensibly shifting the blame to those companies.

Though not admitting any blame, the company says it’ll give the customer a $200 refund for the mattress and an extra $200 to cover the professional cleaning as a “goodwill gesture.”

Mattress inception. Our newest fear.

3OYS: Consumer claims old mattress found inside new mattress [3 On Your Side]

by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Netflix Streaming Speeds Getting Worse For Comcast and Verizon FiOS Customers

Do you have broadband internet? Do you like to watch streaming movies and TV on Netflix? If so, great news: your connection to Netflix is getting faster! Unless, of course, you happen to be one of the tens of millions of Americans who use Comcast or Verizon FiOS for internet access at home, in which case it’s completely the opposite.

Netflix has updated their monthly internet service provider speed rankings with the first data from 2014. The overall look at 17 major ISPs doesn’t seem too bad. There’s an general upward trend among them all, and while Google Fiber is in a high-speed class by itself, the general pack of other providers looks to be both competitive and improving.

US ISP speed data from Netflix, February, 2013 to February, 2014.

US ISP speed data from Netflix, February, 2013 to February, 2014.

There are some major exceptions, though, and they happen to include two of the largest internet service providers.

In the graph below, the blue (top) line is Verizon FiOS; the green (bottom) line is Comcast. Though both saw improving or stable speeds for most of 2013, the difference after October is stark.

Comparison of Comcast and Verizon FiOS connection speeds via Netflix, January, 2013 to February, 2014.

Comparison of Comcast and Verizon FiOS connection speeds via Netflix, January, 2013 to February, 2014.

Comcast’s average speeds for Netflix users have dropped dramatically in just a handful of months. From January through September of 2013, Comcast bounced around between 2 Mbps and about 2.13 Mbps. But starting in October, their performance fell and by January of this year, their average was closer to 1.5 Mbps. FiOS saw a similar, though not quite as precipitous, drop, from a high around 2.2 Mbps to their current low of about 1.8.

Back when Netflix first started publishing their ISP speed rankings in 2012, FiOS and Comcast were in positions #2 and #3, right behind Google Fiber. They currently rank #7 and #14, respectively.

So why did the numbers start plummeting in October? Part of it has to do with a change in Netflix’s measurements. As the text accompanying the chart tool explains, “These ratings reflect the average performance of all Netflix streams on each ISPs network from Nov. 2012 through Sept. 2013 and average performance during prime time starting in Oct. 2013. The average is well below the peak performance due to many factors including the variety of encodes we use to deliver the TV shows and movies we carry as well as home Wi-Fi and the variety of devices our members use.”

The change in measurement, though, doesn’t seem to have caused a dramatic a shift for most of the other ISPs. (Medialink and AT&T UVerse also saw big drops.) Several–Google Fiber, Cablevision Optimum, Cox, and Suddenlink–have maintained a decidedly upward trajectory, and many other providers have remained stable or seen a mix of peaks and valleys.

So if it’s not just differences in measurement, what’s going on?

This data, of course, comes from Netflix and specifically measures Netflix’s connections with broadband providers. There is now no active rule requiring ISPs to treat different internet traffic the same way. So major networks might actually be getting slower… or they might be throttling some of the traffic moving through them.

Verizon was accused of causing deliberate bottlenecks in Netflix traffic in 2013, months before net neutrality was overturned. Comcast has been accused of doing the same in years past. And Netflix has been of particular concern in the wake of the December ruling.

Ars Technica investigated the issue specifically with Verizon last week and didn’t find proof that Verizon was selectively throttling traffic. Nor did they find proof that Verizon isn’t; it’s simply not possible to tell from the outside one way or the other right now. Perhaps the FCC, with its interim case-by-case stance on net neutrality, will eventually take a look.

In the menatime, want to check out how your own connection compares nationally or internationally? Hit up the Netflix ISP Speed Index and have fun with all the graphs and tables they provide.

by Kate Cox via Consumerist

Magic Olympic Fridge Provides Free Beer For Canadians Only

The nation of Canada doesn’t want its people to have to suffer without beer. While we hear alcohol isn’t in short supply in Russia in general, conditions within the Olympic Village for athletes and coaches might be different. MolsonCoors came to the rescue of Canadians far from home with a refrigerator filled with beer that opens when the user holds up a Canadian passport. Only a Canadian passport.

Molson made a version of this machine for an ad, taking it on a tour of Europe last year as a form of outreach to Canadian travelers.

This is all great publicity and very fun, but what other countries could apply the same concept? We humbly suggest a dispenser full of cheese in New York City that only people from Wisconsin can open. Or maybe a machine that dispenses Dunkin’ Donuts coffee in under-served areas.

This Canadian beer machine is the most amazing technology at the Olympics [USA Today]

by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

How To Not Suck… At Valentine’s Day Gifts

Heads-up to everyone in a couple: Valentine’s Day is Friday and some of you will be expected to give some sort of gift to your loved ones. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with chocolates, jewelry, or flowers, but that special someone in your life is probably worth a little creativity and planning… right?

(Plus, if there is anything we’ve learned about floral delivery services is that you don’t always get what you pay for.)

Sure, you can always plan a last-minute romantic dinner under the Golden Arches, but your partner may not be all that impressed.

Yes, you’re running out of time. But fear not, Consumerist readers.

Here are some creative and inexpensive ways to not suck at Valentine’s Day giving.

1. Profess Your Love: Scream to the world how special your partner is with a personalized web site. For as little as $10, you can buy and register a domain name. Stick a dot-com or dot-net on the end of your two names together, or try Upload some photos and a romantic Valentine’s Day message, then post the link on Facebook to show your partner’s friends how creative you are. You can even add a private password-protected page on the site for your partner’s eyes only. (We’ll leave content ideas for that page up to you.)

2. Not Kid Stuff: Think of those coupon books kids make as gifts for their parents. You know, the ones where each coupon promises to help with a different chore? Your “coupons” don’t have to promise you’ll do the laundry or clean the bathroom (well, they can — you know what pleases your partner), but instead, get a little more up close and personal. Promise a massage, a home-cooked meal or something a little more, um, personal, and your recipient can redeem the coupons at any time. We recommend you try not to hide too many conditions in the fine print.

3. An experience: Is there something your partner has been wanting to do but you’ve resisted? Now’s your time to show him or her that you’re putting their needs first. Buy tickets for that sporting event, opera, ballet, or concert that you’ve been avoiding. Or try something out-of-the-box: dinner at the local haunted restaurant, the circus, or a local walking tour.

4. A Picnic: Take a picnic blanket — or a sheet will do — and set up a romantic picnic in your living room. Add finger food that you can serve to your loved one, and maybe a few adult beverages.

5. A treasure hunt: Create clues and hide them around the house — or in public places — directing your loved one to a special treasure. Exactly what they find at the end of the hunt, of course, is up to you. It could be as simple as finding a love note or a bottle of wine and two glasses.

6. Pamper Him/Her: Go crazy with a DIY spa day. Start with a homemade skin treatment or exfoliating mask. You only need some veggies and other ingredients that are probably already in your kitchen. Next, give a home manicure and pedicure — yes, for the guys too — and no, boys, it doesn’t matter if you suck at painting nails. Then comes the bubble bath and a nice long massage.

7. A song: Most couples have a special song or two, so why not give your loved one a live performance? If you have a friend with a guitar, even better, but this works perfectly well a cappella. If you’re not shy — or maybe, especially if you’re shy — do it in public. If you’re feeling poetic, why not write an original song? Okay, fine. You can always just pull a Lloyd Dobler, which also gets you out of having to actually sing.

8. Photo Gifts: If you’ve been with your partner a while, you probably have a bunch of great photos, but they’re all sitting on your hard drive. Make some prints of special moments of the two of you together and buy a few frames. Gift complete. Or, take it a step further and create a calendar — you can find lots of web sites that will do this, or stop by your local do-everything pharmacy or office supply store to place your order. The same retailers will also craft a collage of photos on canvas. Just like pricey artwork, but you choose your moments from your photo library, and they come ready-to-hang. Add in some picture hooks and you’re ready to go.

9. Basket of Joy: Hit the dollar store and grab one of those baskets made famous by our holiday shopping post and fill it with goodies — even add some of the ideas from this column — a special framed photo, some massage oil… use your imagination.

Come on, readers, help out your fellow last-minute gift planners, and share your gift ideas in our comments section.

Have a topic you’d like to see covered in How To Not Suck? Or maybe you’re an expert who would like to share your insight with Consumerist readers? Send us a note at

You can read Karin Price Mueller’s stories for The Star-Ledger at, follow her on Facebook, and on Twitter @kpmueller.


How To Not Suck… At Merging Your Money When You Marry

How To Not Suck… At Borrowing For College

How To Not Suck… At Saving For College

How To Not Suck… At Pre-Paying For Your Funeral

How To Not Suck… At Making Financial New Year’s Resolutions

How To Not Suck… At Last-Minute Christmas Gifting

How To Not Suck… At Saving For The Holidays

How To Not Suck… At Charitable Giving

How To Not Suck… At Disputing Credit Report Errors

How To Not Suck… At Lowering Your Utility Bills

How To Not Suck… At Home Inspections

How To Not Suck… At Understanding Credit Card Rewards

How To Not Suck… At Getting Ready For Tax Season

How To Not Suck… At Picking A Retirement Plan

How To Not Suck… At Deciding When To DIY

How To Not Suck… At Getting Out Of Debt

How To Not Suck… At First Year College Budgets

DISCLAIMER: Any websites, services, retailers, or brands mentioned in the story above are only intended as some of many options available to consumers, and do not constitute an endorsement by Consumerist, Consumerist Media LLC (CML) or its staff. Per Consumerist’s No Commercial Use Policy, such information may not be used by others in advertising or to promote a company’s product or service. In addition, this policy precludes any commercial use of any of CML’s published information in any form, or of the names of Consumers Union®, Consumer Media, Consumer Reports®, The Consumerist, or any other of CU or CML’s publications or services without CU or CML’s express written permission.

by Karin Price Mueller via Consumerist

You Know It’s Serious When An Expert Is Called In To Disarm A 25-Year-Old Can Of Fermented Fish


No herring here, but look, a fish! (TheGiantVermin)

Add this to the list of things you’ll probably never have happen to you: A Swedish fermented herring expert is taking his special set of skills all the way to a cabin in northern Norway to help “disarm” a 25-year-old can of fermented herring. The thing has been stuck up in the eaves so long, the pressure inside the can has expanded it, literally raising the roof of the cabin.

Although The Local uses the word “disarm,” it’s unlikely that there’s any kind of danger from an explosion, the expert from Sweden’s Surströmming Academy explained. Fermented herring — or Surströmming — is a delicacy in Sweden.

“There really isn’t any risk for an explosion. Of course, some fermented herring might come spurting out when we open it. And yes, it will smell,” he said.

“If there’s any fish left in the can, I’m going to eat it,” he added.

The cabin’s owner found the swollen can recently, and his wife says it was leftover from a party the couple hosted back in 1990. The man says the can has bulged so much it probably raised the roof by around two centimeters.

“We had three cans. We ate two and my husband took the third and put it up under the roof, because we had eaten enough. Then he forgot about it,” she said. “There’s going to be a gruesome smell.”

He was also kinda worried it would go ka-boom after all that time, so he warned his neighbors and Norway’s Armed Forces about the potential stink bomb.

The disarmament of the can has turned into a media event, with hundreds of people expected to attend on the big day, Feb. 18.

“There are going to be more people there than there were at Barack Obama’s inauguration,” the expert joked.

“After we open the can it’s going to party, party,” he said.

Swede set to ‘disarm’ 25-year-old herring tin [The Local]

by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Man Sues Wells Fargo Over Robocalls Intended For Other Person

It’s bad enough to get endless collections call from your mortgage servicer over missed loan payments, but it’s next-level annoying when you’re not even a customer of the bank that won’t stop calling your phone day and night.

A man in North Carolina has sued mortgage giant Wells Fargo, alleging that the bank has violated federal law by repeatedly making automated calls to his cellphone even though he was not the person Wells was trying to reach and is not a customer with the bank.

FCC regulations allow for businesses to make automated calls to consumers who they have a business relationship with but specifically forbid the use of robocalls to consumers with whom that relationship does not exist.

The Charlotte Observer reports that the plaintiff in this lawsuit began receiving automated calls from Wells back in Nov. 2013. He says he does not have any connection to Wells and no idea how the bank got his number.

He claims that he explained to Wells that they had the wrong number and person, but that the calls continued at a “harassing rate,” lighting up his phone several times a day.

by Chris Morran via Consumerist

Starbucks Employees: Don’t Say “You’re Not Blind!” To A Disabled Veteran With A Service Dog

service_dawgPeople and dogs have been cooperating for thousands of years now. It’s our thing. In the modern world, it’s generally not okay to take your dog shopping, on a plane, or to Starbucks unless it’s a service dog trained to perform some kind of function other than being a fun pet. Not everyone knows this, which leads to some unfortunate situations…like the experience that a man had at a Houston Starbucks when he and his service dog were questioned at the door.

The man, an Iraq War veteran, had a leg amputated below the knee due to bone cancer. He has a service dog that helps him perform everyday tasks and physically supports him. The pair had been together for three and a half months, and were in town to speak about the awesomeness of the service dog training program.

A Starbucks employee tried to stop them at the door, though, insisting that dogs aren’t allowed inside. There’s one thing that businesses specifically aren’t allowed to do when someone with a service dog wants to enter their establishment, and that’s quiz the person about their disability and what the dog does.

Employees of a business can ask whether the dog is a service animal, and ask what tasks the dog performs. Updated guidelines for service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act spell this out very specifically.

When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only limited inquiries are allowed. Staff may ask two questions: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform. Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.

Saying “You’re not blind” and “Why can’t you [pick things up from the ground] yourself?” as the employee of this Houston Starbucks allegedly did? Not allowed.

In a statement to TV station KHOU, Starbucks assured the world that service dogs are welcome in its stores, and are not subject to interrogation.

Starbucks always welcomes service animals to our stores, and this customer’s experience is not consistent with the welcoming and friendly environment we strive to create for everyone. We have spoken with this customer to apologize for his experience, and we hope to have the opportunity to serve him again. We have also spoken with our store partner about this situation and used this as a coaching opportunity for the future.

Disabled veteran confronted by Starbucks employee about service dog [KHOU]

by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

Twinkies, Ding Dongs, And Other Sweet Hostess Treats On The Cheap At Big Lots

twinkies Everyone knows that when the Zombie apocalypse hits we will all be spending our days and nights searching for our one true love – Twinkies. Rest easy friends, because we now have one more place to find the ooey-gooey treats when the undead start roaming the streets. Big Lots announced Tuesday it will begin selling the sweet treats at a discount.

The Columbus, Ohio-based discount retailer will now be home to discount Twinkies, Ding Dongs, HoHos and other beloved Hostess treats, the Columbus Dispatch reports.

Hostess rose from the ashes of bankruptcy to once again produce the snack cakes in July, but the company’s 600 outlet stores did not reopen. That’s where Big Lots saves the day for consumers who like a tasty treat and a good deal.

Officials with Big Lots say a varied assortment of Hostess products will be stocked weekly at stores across the country. The products will have a two-week shelf life and sell for as much as 40% off the suggested retail price.

Big Lots becomes thrift store for Hostess [Columbus Dispatch]

by Ashlee Kieler via Consumerist

‘Dumb Starbucks’ Shut Down, But Not Because Of Its Name

natefielder The saga of the “Dumb Starbucks” coffee shop in L.A. continued last night, first with the not-at-all-shocking revelation that the creator is a publicity-hungry comedian and writer and then with the news that the store/parody/stunt/art installation had been shut down by the county for reasons that have nothing directly to do with its use of the Starbucks name.

No, the reason for the shut-down was that Dumb Starbucks — which claimed to be a piece of parodic art and had initially been giving away coffee to customers — was operating without a valid public health permit. Even a parody needs a permit if it wants to give away or sell food to the public.

A closed-door meeting is scheduled to be heard on the matter between the L.A. County Health Dept. and the Dumb Starbucks owner, who outed himself to the public last night as Canadian comedian and writer Nathan Fielder, who has written for shows like Jon Benjamin Has a Van and Important Things With Demetri Martin, along with his own Comedy Central series.

When asked if the network knows about his Dumb Starbucks stunt, Fielder told the L.A. Times, “Oh, they do now.”

Once again, here is Fielder attempting to use the parody defense to explain why he believes calling his store “Dumb Starbucks” is legal:

by Chris Morran via Consumerist

Cops Have To Shut Down Pump After $.011/Gallon Gas Glitch

Juegos para que los niños se inicien en la programación

via Educación tecnológica