Marketing para San Valentín #infografia #infographic #marketing #socialmedia

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Cómo debe ser un profesor 2.0 #infografia #infographic #socialmedia #education

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Brave Florists Pioneer Valentine’s Day Deliveries By Tractor, Drone

tractorBy gosh, it is florists’ sacred mission to get their blooms into the hands of their customers this Valentine’s Day, come hell or high snow. We heard about two pioneering petal-pushers who tried innovative new ways to get flowers out this week. One plan succeeded, but the other failed due to government intervention. had tested its flower-delivery drone and was ready to introduce it on V-Day. They even put out promotional photos and made this video showing how it works, in case the concept of “a drone brings you flowers” wasn’t clear.

What is clear is that commercial applications for civilian drones aren’t legal yet, so the FAA stepped in and plucked the store’s plans to use them for flower delivery. Other businesses forced to stay in the prototype phase aimed to use unmanned aircraft to deliver beer and burritos.

It’s a great idea for times when roads are impassable, but the government just doesn’t have the regulations down yet.

Meanwhile, down in North Carolina, one florist decided to use a tricked-out love tractor to make deliveries in downtown Lexington. Outlying areas got their flowers by old-fashioned van, but the shop owner’s 11-year-old son drove the tractor to make deliveries in town. “We’re not letting anything stop us. We’re getting our flowers out one way or another,” the owner said proudly.

<a href="; target=”_blank”>Lexington florist delivering flowers by tractor [WGHP]

Local florist tests delivery by drone [Crain's Detroit]

by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

Former Pizza Hut And KFC Buildings Never Escape Their Roots

If this great nation has a massive supply of anything, it’s abandoned chain restaurant buildings. Fortunately, ingenious business owners find new uses for them, turning fast-food joints into ethnic restaurants and … well, pretty much anything with four walls into a payday loan place or a pawn shop.

We love finding collections of these, and one of our Flickr pool contributors, SchuminWeb, added a fab collection of them this week.

Enterprise Rent-A-Car - photo by SchuminWeb

Enterprise Rent-A-Car – photo by SchuminWeb

They can shear off the roof, but this will always be a former Pizza Hut at heart. It’s all in the trapezoidal windows.

This former KFC makes an adorable cupola-laden payday loan joint.

With a pretty paint job, this KFC in Virginia found new life as a Japanese steak house.

This auto loan store once housed a 7-Eleven.

That reminded us of this post over on UTBAPH: Pizza Huts make fine, distinctive-looking pawn shops, too.


What Happens To Pizza Huts When They Are No Longer Pizza Huts?

by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

Datos sobre la automoción en España #infografia #infographic

Hola: Una infografía con datos sobre la automoción en España. Un saludo

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Cómo eliminar la clausura suelo de tu hipoteca #infografia #infographic

Hola: Una infografía sobre cómo eliminar la clausura suelo de tu hipoteca. Vía Un saludo

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Cómo usan Twitter las asociaciones de pacientes #infografia #infographic #socialmedia #health

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Military Researchers Nearing The “Holy Grail” Of Ready-To-Eat Meals: Pizza

The next time you’re staring down a cheesy, hot, delicious piece of pizza right, remind yourself to be thankful how easy you’ve got it. Not everyone has access to pizza wherever they are, including the U.S. military. But thanks to a stalwart team of researchers bent on bringing pizza to soldiers, that could change in the near future.

Scientists have been listening to the masses, who are clamoring for pizza as one of their options for meals ready to eat, or MREs, reports the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. These lightweight, individual field rations have been around since 1981 and are eaten by soldiers in combat zones or other places where a kitchen is impossible.

Pizza is known as the Holy Grail of MREs, and now researchers in a Massachusetts military lab say they’re closing on just the right formulation. No refrigeration or freezing required.

“You can basically take the pizza, leave it on the counter, packaged, for three years and it’d still be edible,” said a food scientist at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center.

Pizza is high on the list of requested items when soldiers are asked every year what they’d like to eat, she adds. She’s spent almost two years developing the recipe to oblige those requests.

It’s a tall order — moisture in tomato sauce, cheese and toppings end up sinking into the dough over time, making it gross and soggy and prime for bacteria.

Recent research has helped scientists figure out how to keep that from happening, partly by using ingredients called humectants — like sugar, salt and syrups — that bind to water and keep it out of the dough..

The real question is, how does it taste? The head of the taste lab says so far the latest prototype batch of pepperoni isn’t half bad.

“It pretty much tastes just like a typical pan pizza that you would make at home and take out of the oven or the toaster oven,” she said. “The only thing missing from that experience would be it’s not hot when you eat it. It’s room temperature.”

Still, even room temperature pizza is better than no pizza at all, am I right, or am I right? I’m right.

You can follow MBQ on Twitter where she will most definitely talk about pizza: @marybethquirk

Military food researchers say they’re near the holy grail: MRE pizza that lasts 3 years [Minneapolis Star-Tribune]

by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Groupon Offers Special Presidents Day Deal Featuring Former “President” Alexander Hamilton

Either Groupon is transcending the boundaries of ironic humor by pretending not to know that Alexander Hamilton — the handsomest face on all U.S. currency, in my humble opinion (#cheekbones) — or the company really thinks the first Secretary of the Treasury was a prez: It’s touting a deal that “features President Alexander Hamilton — undeniably one of our greatest presidents.”

On the one hand, Groupon often goes for the batty kind of humor that’s been part of its company’s email deals since the beginning. But this press release just seems so earnest that we can’t help but think maybe someone at the company needs a refresher course in U.S. history via a quick web search:

President Hamilton is best known for the fiscal sensibilities that led him to author economic policies, establish a national bank and control taxes. Customers can honor our money-minded commander-in-chief and find deals by searching for local deals all through President’s Day weekend.

And it gets even better! Through the magic of Twitter we came across an apparent reply from Groupon addressing the apparent confusion (thanks, Chris!):

Ah yes, “opinions.” Those are exactly like historical facts. Marketing.

If this isn’t a “crazy like a fox” stunt to get us to write about Groupon, then we’re seriously concerned. And so should you be — it’s probably not the best idea to give your banking information to someone who thinks Hamilton was a president.


You can follow MBQ on Twitter if you like hearing how hot she thinks Alexander Hamilton is every time she gets a $10 bill in change: @marybethquirk

by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Aerolíneas y Big Data #infografia #infographic #tourism

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5 Ways The FCC Has Failed Consumers (And One Way To Fix It), From A Former FCC Commissioner

Michael J. Copps

Michael J. Copps

Former FCC commissioner Michael Copps has a long history of trying to support consumer interests. He has been an outspoken critic of media consolidation for many years. Back in 2011, he was the lone dissenting vote on the Comcast/NBC merger and recently, he’s been calling on the FCC to reclassify broadband ISPs and fix net neutrality ASAP.

In a long but fascinating essay this week at the Columbia Journalism Review, Copps is calling on journalists and the FCC alike to step up their game. He begins, “For more than a decade I occupied a front-row seat watching government policy undermine your profession and our democracy,” before describing how in his time at the FCC he “saw first-hand how my agency’s decisions limited [journalists'] ability to accomplish good things.”

The whole essay is worth a read but in short: how, according to Copps, has the FCC helped the situation become so dire for the American consumer?

1.) The FCC has been far too gung-ho about consolidation. When all of the newspapers, the radio stations, and the TV stations are owned by a tiny handful of organizations, that’s a problem. Copps cites Sinclair, ClearChannel, Tribune, and News Corp. as examples of once-small operators who now control huge swaths of the news media in the United States. It hurts reporters and consumers, as “combined, downsized, or eliminated newsrooms” result.

And then, of course, there’s the recent Comcast/Time Warner Cable agreement. Like many others, Copps thinks that one is a bad idea.

2.) Political change has fueled a rampant contest for control of TV. Citing the Supreme Court’s Citizen United decision of 2010, Copps says that “billions of Super PAC and dark money dollars” are now flowing through the TV marketplace–not just as advertising dollars, but as bids to buy the stations themselves.

And how many stations are we talking? Lots. “Nearly 300 stations worth over $8 billion changed hands last year alone, up 367 percent in value from 2012,” Copps writes, adding that the FCC has also recently approved major transactions involving the Tribune, Sinclair, and Gannett media companies.

3.) The internet isn’t that good at distributing news yet. While Copps agrees that yes, the internet is an open platform with wide reach, it’s still a tough place for a reporter to make a living. Investigative journalism takes time and money, and not that many online-only outlets have been able to spare the resources to support that level of research and writing.

The internet still will “produce more revolutionary changes in the news,” Copps says, but it’s not there yet–and the path it’s currently on isn’t sufficient. The biggest reporters of in-depth news are still the papers… outlets that, as mentioned above, are also producing less news than they once did.

4.) American broadband stinks. Consumerist readers kind of know this already. American consumers are paying more for their broadband than our global neighbors, generally, and all those dollars are buying us slower speeds and less reliability than much of the rest of the world sees. That doesn’t just hurt consumers, Copps argues; it hurts the whole nation, even on an economic level:

Broadband is the critical infrastructure that will fuel 21st century jobs, health, education and democracy, just as roads, bridges, railways, highways, and rural electricity fueled the earlier growth of our nation. But until we develop a sense of mission to bring high-speed, low-cost broadband to everyone —no matter the particular circumstances of their individual lives—the future will belong to others.

5.) The FCC really screwed up by not classifying broadband ISPs as infrastructure back in 2002. As net neutrality has fallen, Copps and others have called on the FCC to rectify their decade-old slip as quickly as possible. Theoretically, it could be a simple change. In reality, Copps notes, “Armies of lobbyists and wheelbarrows of money stand in the way,” and the current FCC has an uphill battle against it.

But! There are ways the FCC can fix it all. Copps ends by pointing out that the FCC has the authority and the means to stand up for consumers in the face of business demands. The first step? Turning down merger proposals that hurt the public interest. And second, the FCC needs to design and implement a “credible broadcast licensing system” to deal with broadcast networks.

It’s not all on the FCC, though: Copps also calls on the media to make a point of covering and drawing attention to the consolidation and evaporation of their own industry.

Almost three years ago, Copps told Consumerist:

I’m very concerned about what’s happened to news and information in our society. I think this is one of the most important aspects of the broadband revolution for us to consider. If our democracy’s town square is going to be paved with broadband bricks, we have to make sure everybody has access to it, that they can get there, and that it’s informed by the news and information that people need in order to make intelligent decisions for the future of their country.

If the situation has changed at all since 2011, it’s only gotten worse. Perhaps the current FCC commissioners and chairman Tom Wheeler will take Copps’s call to heart.

From the desk of a former FCC Commissioner [Columbia Journalism Review]

by Kate Cox via Consumerist

Impress Your Valentine With A Super Simple Chocolate Cake Beyond Their Wildest Dreams

(Morton Fox)

This isn’t a microwave cake, but it’s just as delicious!! (Morton Fox)

Valentine’s Day is nearly over, but that doesn’t mean you can’t whip up a decadent dessert for your sweetie. If you have a microwave and one minute, then you’re well on your way to chocolatey bliss.

So get your chocolate ready and prep your microwave (or Bill O’Reilly’s if you’ve got the dough) because this 20-second chocolate cake recipe from PBS is bound to blow your mind.

Grab your two favorite mugs and oil up the sides. Then mix sugar, cocoa powder, heavy cream, an egg and vanilla until there are no lumps. Once that’s finished top with baking powder and quickly mix.

Next, split the batter between the mugs, making sure there are no air bubbles. Then head to your microwave.

Set for 30 seconds and closely watch the cake bake in front of your eyes. When the cake rise about half-way up the sides of the mug it’s done!

Transfer your ooey-gooey cake to a plate, ASAP or you’re bound to get a rock hard chocolate flavored hockey puck. And get ready to impress you Valentine with your culinary expertise.


  • 1 egg – beaten

  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

  • 1 tbsp heavy cream

  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • 1/4 tsp baking powder

  • 1 tsp oil


  1. Split the oil between two tall mugs with vertical walls, and then use your finger to spread it evenly up the sides, drain any excess oil. The mugs must be very well oiled or the cake will stick when you try and unmold it.

  2. Add the sugar to a small bowl, and then sift in the coco powder (a tea strainer works great for this). Add the heavy cream, egg and optional vanilla and whisk until there are no lumps. Sprinkle the baking powder on top and quickly mix together.

  3. Split the batter between the mugs and firmly tap the mugs on a towel-lined countertop to release any large air bubbles. Microwave one cake at a time.

  4. Since you don’t want to start and stop the microwave a bunch of times, set it for about 30 seconds, and closely watch the cake. It’s done when the cake rises about half-way up to sides of the mug (about 18 seconds in a 1000 watt microwave). The difference between a tender fluffy cake draped in velvety chocolate sauce and a chewy hockey puck is a few seconds, so you’ll need to experiment to see what works best for your microwave.

  5. Because the mug retains heat, it will continue cooking until you unmold it, so have a plate ready and unmold the cake as soon as it comes out of the microwave.

Prepare a Decadent Chocolate Cake in One Minute or Less! []

by Ashlee Kieler via Consumerist

La brecha de precios entre smartphones IOS vs Android #infografia #infographic

Hola: Una infografía sobre la brecha de precios entre smartphones IOS vs Android. Un saludo You will find more statistics at Statista

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Hazte responsive #infografia #infographic #design #marketing

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Forget Heart-Shaped Pizza: Try Heart-Shaped Pepperoni Instead

In recent weeks, we’ve noticed a lot of visitors coming to our site because they’re looking for information on heart-shaped pizza. Yes, chain pizza places like Papa Murphy’s and Papa John’s offer heart-shaped pizzas, and you can make your own by shaping the crust into a blobbular heart-ish thing. For the ultimate in adorableness, though, try heart-shaped pepperoni. They’ll keep their shape better than a whole pizza, filling the space with way more hearts.


All you need to make this magic happen are a 1.5-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter and some pepperoni. (You could use just about any other shape, too.) Get step-by-step directions over at Serious Eats.

What should you do with the cutouts? You can use the outline anti-hearts to decorate another pizza, one that marks the hollowness and futility of love. Or just eat ‘em.

Vegetarians aren’t left out of this lovefest: you can form tasty veggie hearts out of red peppers or tomatoes.

It requires more work, yes, but is significantly cuter than what passes for “heart-shaped” pizza on a bad day at the chain pizzerias:

Image (2) hearty.jpg for post 10027518

Image (1) Badpizza.jpg for post 5152896

Image (4) 2010-02-13 18.17.50-thumb-600x448-37002.jpg for post 10002143

Top This: How to Make Heart-Shaped Pepperoni Slices [Serious Eats]

by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

5 métricas clave para Twitter #socialmedia

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Shooting Drive-Thru Workers Is Never Okay — Even If You’re Using A NERF Gun

It’s not only rude to shoot at people who are just trying to do their jobs, but it’s also something that will get you in hot water with cops. Even if you’re using a non-deadly weapon like a NERF gun to go pyew, pyew, pyew. Still not gonna go over well, as two St. Louis bad consumers recently found out.

A woman and her boyfriend are facing assault charges after she allegedly shot a worker with a NERF gun in the drive-thru of a local fast food joint, reports

Cameras caught the whole thing: A car pulls up to the drive-thru but its occupants don’t buy anything. Then ffffffpt! Out shoots a NERF dart, heading directly for the worker at the window.

“The Nerf dart strikes her. Nobody was injured in this case but if it hits an eye or something an injury could result from this,” said a St. Louis County police officer.

Just because someone isn’t hurt doesn’t mean you’re off the hook — the presence of fear alone can prompt a third-degree assault charge. So keep all guns, toy and otherwise, at home.

You can follow MBQ on Twitter and she promises never to shoot you with a NERF gun: @marybethquirk

Woman, boyfriend charged after local fast-food worker shot with Nerf dart []

by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Algunas estadísticas sobre FaceBook Ads #socialmedia #marketing

Hola: Una presentación con algunas estadísticas sobre FaceBook Ads. Un saludo

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GAO: Changes Needed For Student Debit Cards Offered By Colleges, Universities

Going to college comes with a new set of responsibilities for students, and one of those responsibilities is being in charge of their own finances. What better way to impart a lesson in finances than giving them access to federal student aid on a prepaid debit card? As the use of such cards is growing in popularity at universities and colleges, advocates are calling for more oversight to their use.

As of July 2013, at least 11% of U.S. colleges and universities, about 852 schools, had agreements to provide debit or prepaid card services to students. Many of those schools issue federal student aid and tuition on the cards, the U.S. Government Accountability Office reports.

While the cards provide a convenient way for schools and universities to outsource the process of paying financial aid and other funds, the fees and accessibility for students is an area of concern.

The GAO found that fees charged by college card providers were similar to fees incurred by bank-issued debit cards. However, two of the largest card providers charged fees for PIN purchases.

Schools interviewed by the GAO said they had not received reports of issues conceding the availability of fee-free ATMs on campus. The GAO found the Department of Education’s broad definition of convenient access could make avoiding unnecessary fees difficult for students when making withdrawals.

In 2012, the nation’s largest provider of the cards, Higher One, came under fire after students reported being stuck with high ATM fees because the company did not offer convenient access.

The GAO report found several instances in which schools or card providers encouraged students to enroll in a college card without showcasing neutral information about payment options.

The GAO recommends requiring financial firms providing debit and prepaid card services to colleges to file their agreements for public review.

Additionally, the Department of Education should better specify what constitutes convenient access to ATMs or bank branch offices for students receiving financial aid funds, as well as develop requirement for schools and card providers to present neutral information to students about their options in receiving federal aid.

Both the Department of Education and Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection agreed with the GAO, the report says.

This isn’t the first time the use of prepaid debit cards on college campuses has come under scrutiny. In January 2013, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau launched an inquiry into the impact of financial products marketed to college students through their schools.

Actions Needed to Address ATM Access, Student Choice, and Transparency [U.S. Government Accountability Office]

by Ashlee Kieler via Consumerist

Federal Government Releases Guidelines For Banks To Deal With Marijuana Businesses

One of the biggest worries marijuana businesses have in states like Colorado and Washington, where recreational use is now legal, was that they’d be shut out of financial institutions and be stuck with cash-only transactions. That worry is now likely allayed today as the federal government has given the go ahead for banks to offer services to the legal marijuana industry, as it said it would earlier this year.

Of course, that green light comes with some strings — banks will still have to report any suspicious activity they see in the industry to federal authorities, to thwart any illegal drug cartels or others from trying to take advantage or launder money, reports the Denver Post.

The U.S. Department of Justice and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, said in a joint statement today that the move gives “greater financial transparency” to an industry that’s only legal in two states for recreational use, and about 20 others for medical use.

Under these guidelines, banks will have to help law enforcement by providing information that is “particularly” valuable and filing reports to give an inside look at the inner workings of the marijuana business.

“Law enforcement will now have greater insight into marijuana business activity generally,” FinCEN said in a news release, “and will be able to focus on activity that presents high-priority concerns.”

Right now banks have to file suspicious activity reports (or SARs) when they think something fishy is going on that might have a drug connection. The new guidance outlines three tiers of SARs to use just for marijuana businesses: “marijuana limited,” “marijuana priority,” and “marijuana termination.”

“This reduces the burden on banks,” a senior FinCEN official said in a briefing before the guidance was officially announced. “Marijuana under federal law requires a SAR. Now, the necessity is limited, reducing the banks’ burden a bit and more importantly clarifies where law enforcement focuses its attention.”

It’ll be a big help to businesses that thus far have been worried about conducting transactions using only cash, as it makes them a target for robberies. Not to mention, not everyone wants to use cash.

The “guidance seeks to mitigate the public safety concerns created by high-volume cash-based businesses without access to banking and the financial system, while at the same time ensuring that criminal organizations, gangs and drug cartels do not have access to the financial system to launder criminal proceeds,” Colorado-based U.S. Attorney John Walsh said in a statement.

Feds give historic green light to banks working with marijuana businesses [Denver Post]

by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Consumerist Friday Flickr Finds

Here are six of the best photos that readers added to the Consumerist Flickr Pool in the last week, picked for usability in a Consumerist post or for just plain neatness.

by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

Money Can’t Buy You Love, But It Can Buy You This Weird Pillow To Make Out With

Listen, we’re not here to judge you on your kissing skills or lack thereof. And we know not everyone has a special someone to lock lips with on Valentine’s Day. So for those folks finding themselves bereft today, you could at least get some practice time in with these — how shall we say it? — unique pillows.

Throw a couple of these on your couch and turn on the Barry Manilow and there you have your evening plans all worked out, notes the Daily Dot.

These lippy cushions are for sale over at DIY community site Instructables, and their creator says she was inspired to make them after finding a CPR dummy and a plethora of rubber mouths in the Dumpster near her apartment. Ah, freecycling!

There seems to have been little innovation in the make-out practice pillow department despite the rise in popularity of decorative ‘Let’s Make Out; pillows and cuddle pillows that are shaped like a human torso, so it is time that I step in and offer a new solution to the middle-schoolers or lonely hearts of the world: a pillow with a mouth. You are welcome. You are so welcome.

Whether you think they’re creepy or just right, the choice is up to you. Just close your eyes, turn on The Notebook and think of Ryan Gosling/Rachel McAdams. Shh. There you go. You don’t need no stinkin’ boyfriend/girlfriend.

Follow MBQ on Twitter but don’t expect her to talk about her most recent pillow date: @marybethquirk

These kissing practice pillows are the stuff of makeout nightmares [Daily Dot]

by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Data Caps Are The Devil For Residents Of Rural Alaskan Towns; Are They In Our Future?

GCI What if you weren’t able to binge watch House of Cards on Netflix earlier this week? It would be agony, right? For residents in some rural areas of Alaska the ability to binge watch their favorite shows, or enjoy that viral video online, quickly drain their pocketbooks thanks to data caps.

The idea of managing your data usage so closely seems foreign to most of us. Although, with the recent possible marriage announcement of Time Warner Cable and Comcast data caps could be in our future. But for now, we have to look at the way data caps, and their overage fees, play out in rural Alaska.

One woman said she pays $100 a month for 25 GB of data. When she went over by 2 GB after watching a movie on Netflix her monthly bill doubled, Business Insider reports.

“Now, I don’t even consider Netflix until near the very end of the month, and I have to be sure that I’m no more than three-fourths of the way into my total data, at the absolute most,” the woman tells Business Insider. “So it’s a very serious business – I have to poll people to figure out what that one very special movie should be.”

In another instance, two roommates racked up a $3,500 overcharge in two weeks after allowing Dropbox to continuously sync their computers.

Why don’t they just switch broadband providers, you ask? Well, they can’t. GCI, a communications company, has a monopoly and costs aren’t likely to change anytime soon.

And for those of you thinking you’ll never have to worry about a data cap in sprawling cities, you might want to think again.

While we have to wait to see what the new potential marriage of Time Warner Cable and Comcast brings in terms of data caps, it’s not hard to imagine the issue coming up in the future. Several broadband providers including Comcast, AT&T and Time Warner have all experimented with data caps in the past.

Why People In Alaska Can’t Watch Netflix Without Fearing A $100 Surcharge [Business Insider]

by Ashlee Kieler via Consumerist

Most Americans Eat Chocolate, Fewer Americans Are Making It

Yes, we might all be buying a lot of chocolate today (and a lot of half-priced heart-shaped chocolates tomorrow.) While Americans still eat about the same amount of chocolate as we always have, there are fewer people employed in the candy-making industry thanks to overseas production and advances in chocolate-making technology. [CNN Money]

by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

Early Adopter: Using Google Glass Is A Literal Headache

googleglassWhen Google first opened up the possibility of using its Glass face computers, nerds all over the world were excited about the opportunity. They signed up for the Glass Explorers program, which required them to pay $1,500 and not let anyone else even borrow the device. Almost a year later, many of those early adopters are tired of talking to their face computers.

Maybe they’re bitter that Google doesn’t want users to have facial-recognition apps or use the devices while intimate with a partner. Casinos don’t want patrons wearing them, a woman was ticketed for wearing her Glass while driving (even if the case thrown out in court), and one man even claims that a movie theater called the FBI on him for wearing his device to watch a film, suspecting him of piracy. Now even early adopters don’t like Glass, with one of the device’s first evangelists admitting that he rarely wears his anymore because of the headaches. No, not the metaphorical headaches of being one of the first people in society to walk around with a face computer. The literal headaches.

Early adopter Chris Barrett told CNET that he started to experience problems shortly after he started using the device, during the second week. “After a few hours of use, my head started to pound,” he said in an e-mail. “I don’t usually get headaches. I thought maybe I was just tired, so I decided to sleep it off.”

Headaches are just a thing that happens, though: maybe it wasn’t the face computer. Unfortunately, Barrett found that his skull-crushing headaches correlated with wearing the device for extended periods. Talking to fellow “Explorers,” he learned that he wasn’t alone.

After he started leaving the device off his face most of the time, Barrett discovered that he didn’t miss it all that much. It was fun and novel at the beginning, but once the novelty wore off, he remembered that he could read e-mails and search Google using old-fashioned computers and stuff.

Google, for its part, says that the neurological risks of using a face computer are no different from getting glasses for the first time, or any other wearable item that changes one’s habits. “[W]e’ve been working with eye care professionals from the very beginning to ensure that the device is safe for use,” a spokesperson told CNET. “In our help center, we do encourage new Explorers to ease into Glass, just as they would a new pair of glasses.” If you’re prone to headaches, maybe ease slowly into the concept of wearable technology altogether.

Google Glass enthusiast: It’s not worth the headaches [CNET]

by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

Radio Shack Worker Accused Of Trying To Rob The Store Then Shows Up On Time For His Shift

There are bad consumers, and then there are bad consumers who might do one bad thing but are still very punctual. Not that being on time for work will earn you any brownie points if you’re accused of trying to rob said workplace.

Police in Florida arrested a man who they say tried to rob the Radio Shack store where he works. Cops say he showed up at 9:30 yesterday morning wearing a ski mask, and ordered an employee to drop to the floor, reports the Tampa Bay Times.

When she moved he pepper-sprayed her, police say, but she still tried to run away. He then allegedly tried to use a Taser on her to keep her from running but instead Tased himself in the hand. Ouch.

Apparently stymied by his own bumbling, law enforcement say the suspect then ran out of the store, tossing his blue ski mask in a Dumpster behind the Radio Shack. Because clearly, no one would ever find that bit of evidence in such a hidden location.

When it came time for his shift to start at 4 p.m., there he was, on time and ready to start working. Except that police arrested him instead, and charged him with attempted robbery with a weapon. He admitted to trying to rob the store, cops said.

You can follow MBQ on Twitter if you don’t mind retweets of adorable cats: @marybethquirk

Clearwater man accused of trying to rob Radio Shack where he worked [Tampa Bay Times]

by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Two Big Reasons The Comcast And Time Warner Cable Deal Is Bad For Consumers

Comcast-TWCLogo Yesterday, Comcast and Time Warner Cable announced a $45 billion merger deal. Consumer advocacy groups (and consumers) were less than thrilled about Comcast’s big news, and ardently called on the FCC and the Justice Department to alter or prevent the buyout.

As Comcast and Time Warner keep pointing out, though, the two companies really don’t operate in any of the same markets. While many of us are already subject to a local monopoly of one or the other, a union of the two doesn’t change that circumstance for better or for worse with any households or subscribers. So would this particular corporate marriage really make anything worse?

Yes, yes it probably would. And most of the reasons fall into one of two big buckets of issues.

Extreme industry consolidation

We all know that Comcast is the biggest cable company in the country. But how big is big?

Really big. Currently, Comcast has about 21 million subscribers. Time Warner Cable and its 11 million customers are the next largest cable company. Third and fourth place go to Cox and Charter, with roughly 6 million and 4 million subscribers respectively.

Much in the same way that decades of rampant consolidation have left us with fewer, larger banks than ever before, we now have fewer cable choices than ever before. Over the past few decades local companies merged into regional companies, which merged into bigger regional companies, which today have merged into just a handful of semi-national operators.

The Wall Street Journal yesterday published a chart making a clear visual example of consolidation over the past twenty years:

via the Wall Street Journal

20 years’ worth of cable consolidation, via the Wall Street Journal

Comcast picking up Time Warner’s subscribers would bring it to about 30 million customers, five times the number of the next-biggest competitor. They’d also dominate 19 of the country’s 20 largest cities. But of course, that’s just cable. What about satellite? What about fiber? Surely these are large, viable competitors?

Well, yes. Sort of. But Comcast–and a unified Comcast-Time Warner–will continue to dwarf them all. CNMoney points out that the 30 million combined consumers would in fact be a full third of all the cable or internet subscribers in the nation:

Comparison of subscriber bases, via CNNMoney

Comparison of subscriber bases, from CNNMoney

A company that large has enormous clout with everyone. Comcast will have enormous leverage when negotiating content carriage contract deals and rates, which in turn influences how much a consumer has to pay.

And bringing in satellite and fiber competition brings us to the second major merger problem: broadband.

It’s not about TV, it’s about the future of internet access.

Cable subscription went nowhere but up every single quarter for decades… until 2008. That’s the year that Netflix opened up its streaming-only service, and Hulu launched just a few months later. Then the economy tanked. With new easy streaming options available, cost-conscious cord-cutters couldn’t justify a hundred-dollar cable bill anymore.

Cable TV subscriptions stopped growing, flattened out, and then began to drop. That’s bad for a cable company! But since consumers now get more and more of their media from the internet, and the cable companies also control huge swaths of the broadband access in the United States, there’s been plenty of room for repositioning.

Cord-cutters who are still streaming something need to get their internet fix somewhere, and it’s been the cable companies. Fiber’s small potatoes in comparison, and satellite internet is an unreliable and expensive option mostly reserved for rural areas.

In January, Quartz took a look at how Time Warner has been hemorrhaging pay TV customers while also scooping up broadband users:

Five-year subscriber trends at Time Warner Cable, from Quartz

Five-year subscriber trends at Time Warner Cable, from Quartz

Bringing Time Warner into the Comcast fold wouldn’t just mean Comcast would control about 30% of the nation’s paid TV. It would mean Comcast could control about 30% of the country’s internet access. And that is a problem.

Internet competition is all but non-existent in a huge number of markets, and that’s no accident: the cable lobby likes it that way. The absence of a reliable alternative means a company can let its service plummet and its rates skyrocket, and there’s not much a consumer can do about it. When only one company will wire and service your area, you either use them or unplug entirely. The lack of competition already has bad results for end-users.

But it could still get worse. Net neutrality regulations forced broadband ISPs to provide an even playing ground for other companies’ content, but as of January, those regulations no longer exist. While ISPs are promising to play nice for the meantime, without a new rule in place those oh-so-noble promises are all but certain eventually to drift into obscurity.

Comcast is required to obey the now-vacated net neutrality regulations until January 2018, as part of the terms of their acquisition of NBCUniversal in 2011. Four years can fly by awfully quickly in a swiftly changing marketplace, though, and Comcast–owner of NBCUniversal, partial owner of Hulu, major industry player–has a great deal of incentive to promote their own services over others.

Comcast’s bid to buy Time Warner isn’t about what channels you can watch or how you get Game of Thrones. It’s about the internet getting slower, less open, and more expensive. And that’s a bad deal for us all.

by Kate Cox via Consumerist