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Why the Amazon/HBO deal changes everything

By Guest Blogger(view all posts by Rick.Broida)
at 8:47AM Thursday April 24, 2014
under Stuff We Like

Oh, TV, you so awesome.

I don't mean the TV itself, though I'll admit "awesome" is the only word that adequately describes a 65-inch flat panel with passive 3D.

No, I'm talking about what's on TV. So many great shows, so little time.

This problem just got even worse, though in an entirely fantastic way: Amazon announced yesterday an exclusive deal with HBO, meaning Amazon Prime subscribers will have unlimited access to HBO's back library of TV shows, miniseries, comedy specials, documentaries, and original movies.

Yep, that's right: Now you can watch every episode of "Deadwood," "Flight of the Conchords," "The Wire," and, if you're into overrated shows with nothing but unlikable characters, "The Sopranos." (That's right, I said it. Though I have a hard time finding anyone who agrees with me.) Read More »

Why Netflix's price increase is no big deal

By Guest Blogger(view all posts by Rick.Broida)
at 9:30AM Tuesday April 22, 2014
under Stuff We Like

Never say never.

I used to hate walnuts, for example. Now I'm putting 'em in oatmeal, salads, you name it. Turns out they're good, and good for you!

Likewise, back in 2011, when Netflix split its DVD-rental and movie-streaming businesses in two, lots of people swore off the service. "Pay $7.99 just for streaming?!

Never!"

Yeah, and not long after, you came crawling back, didn't you? Because, let's face it, Netflix is the best deal on anything ever. Seriously. You're practically ripping them off. A mere eight bucks per month buys you unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows. Read More »

The 2014 US Airways Disaster: Anatomy of a Twitter Fail

By Guest Blogger(view all posts by Mike.Pearl)
at 2:00PM Tuesday April 15, 2014
under Newsworthy

It's rare to witness a genuine apotheosis in real time, but yesterday, if you were on Twitter around noon Pacific time, you may have witnessed the Greatest Twitter Fail of All Time.

A few days ago, US Airways received this complaint from Twitter user @ElleRafter: "@USAirways Unhappy that 1787 sat for an hour on tarmac in CLT because overweight, resulting in over hour late arrival in PDX…" There was a brief, benign exchange. Then days later, in a routine follow-up US Airways tweeted the following (originally with an uncensored image):

Read More »

Hypocrite Lobby: Why corporations are people who live in glass houses

By Guest Blogger(view all posts by Mike.Pearl)
at 12:22PM Friday April 4, 2014
under Newsworthy


The average Jane Six-Pack out there would be rightly confused by the idea that Dow Chemical Co. is just as much of a person as she is. It makes a little more sense when you consider that "corporate personhood"-related Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United were decided by a bunch of lawyers, pretty much the furthest thing from a Jane Six-Pack -- unless you mean a six-pack of Coke. Sure, corporations are people to a bunch of lawyers, because it's the shortest possible contortion of logic that gets us to a point where we can grant corporations legal rights, describe their liability or lack thereof, and allow them to own things.

But when corporations assert that they believe things, corporate personhood gets sketchy. At best, corporations' expressions of "belief" place them among the worst hypocrites out there, and at worst, their glaring inconsistencies threaten to break apart any notion of their personhood altogether.

Read More »

The Greed of Antivax: Passing the cost of immunity on to others

By Guest Blogger(view all posts by Mike.Pearl)
at 10:54AM Friday February 28, 2014
under Newsworthy

childinjection
(via flickr user julien harneis)

The Antivax movement, whose members (antivaxers) choose not to give their kids vaccines, seems to be spreading. In 2012, the CDC found that about ten percent of parents had delayed or forgone vaccinations. If exposed to an infectious disease, these unvaccinated kids could be infected with certain kinds of pneumonia, diphtheria, measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough, tetanus, polio, and the flu, while children who have been immunized would almost never be susceptible to any of these.

Antivaxers have usually read something on the internet that convinced them. This could have been the preaching of Viera Scheibner, who believes children need more diseases. It might be because of a study by Dr. Andrew Wakefield that linked vaccines to autism until his publisher formally retracted it because there wasn't any link, at all, whatsoever. It could be caused by fears about aluminum and formaldehyde in vaccines, despite these common "adjuvants" not being capable of harming children unless the doses are multiplied to cartoonish levels. Other antivaxers are afraid mercury is in there, which it isn't, with one easily avoidable exception. Read More »

Google wants to give you a free ride

By Guest Blogger(view all posts by Mike.Pearl)
at 12:02PM Thursday January 30, 2014
under Newsworthy

Google published a patent last week -- although they filed for it in 2011 -- for a type of ad that offers you a free or discounted ride to the business that's being advertised to you. It'll be a big deal if this really does start showing up in banners and popups.

According to Google's patent drawing, "transportation-aware physical advertising conversions," will show up on your Apple Newton (left) and on a parking garage ticket kiosk (right). Or maybe the drawings just aren't very sophisticated and the ads will show up on your phone.

Google1 Read More »

Savings.com Announces $125 Ad Buy During Puppy Bowl X

By (view all posts by Seth.Barnes)
at 8:13PM Tuesday January 28, 2014
under Newsworthy

LOS ANGELES - Refusing to be priced out of the year's biggest day of television watching, Los Angeles-based coupon and deal site Savings.com announced today that they will spend upwards of $125 advertising their Twitter feed during Puppy Bowl X, the counter-programming phenomenon running concurrent to Sunday's Super Bowl.

"We're in the game!" exulted Seth Barnes who works in marketing for Savings.com. "Granted it's the day's second biggest event and we'll be advertising on the proverbial second screen, but doggone it we're ready to play ball!"
Read More »

Despite backlash, reusable grocery bags are still the smart (and frugal) move

By Guest Blogger(view all posts by Mike.Pearl)
at 12:05PM Thursday January 23, 2014
under Shop Smarter

I'd heard arguments against reusable bags before, but despite having been around for years, I hadn't heard the "reusable bags jeopardize public health" argument until very recently. Now that I've looked into it, it's not very compelling.

Whether it's a dolphin-rescuing triumph, or a mistake spearheaded by wrongheaded liberals, plastic grocery bags are going the way of the dinosaurs they're made of. Yes, extinction is still a ways off, but over sixty jurisdictions in the US have bans on the books, and more are in the works.

With each new jurisdiction to ban the bags comes a new fee structure. You now have to cough up as much as 25 cents each time you forget your bag. That can add up in the long run, especially for large families.

Obviously it's not just a matter of personal finance. 80 million tons of the petroleum product polyethylene are manufactured every year, and its primary use is in the manufacture of disposable bags. They may or may not whiz away to the sea immediately after use, and maliciously jam themselves into the blowholes of orcas, but they do sit in landfills for perhaps a thousand years, by some estimates, or perhaps forever by others. For whatever reason, some find the environmental arguments against disposable bags unconvincing. Read More »

My tech predictions for 2014

By Guest Blogger(view all posts by Rick.Broida)
at 6:00AM Friday December 27, 2013
under Newsworthy

It's just a few days until the clock strikes 2014, so let me take this opportunity to wish you a safe, happy, and healthy new year. And, of course, a year filled with killer deals. (I'll be on hand to help make that happen.)

As you may recall, I recently named my favorite tech of 2013. But no more looking back; it's time to set our sights on the year ahead, which promises to be just as exciting, crazy, and unpredictable as the year we just finished.

Of course, unpredictability won't stop me from making predictions. And I've got my Android-powered crystal ball (what, you think I'd trust Windows with something as important as the future?) right here, so let's take a look at the tech trends that will shape 2014.

1. Read More »

Amazon offering Black Friday deals starting November 24, 2013

By (view all posts by Susan.Yoo-Lee)
at 9:32AM Thursday November 21, 2013
under Stuff We Like

This just in. Amazon.com just announced that they would be offering their Black Friday deals starting this Sunday November 24th. Originally, they were scheduled to release some of their Black Friday deals beginning Monday November 25th.

Moving it one day earlier means that many shoppers will have the opportunity to shop online without having to stress about work.

(I wonder if they are taking Walmart's lead because as many of you know, they just announced that they would be matching some of their competitors' top Black Friday deals tomorrow November 22nd.) Read More »

Walmart to match competitors' best Black Friday deals starting this week

By (view all posts by Susan.Yoo-Lee)
at 12:09AM Tuesday November 19, 2013
under Newsworthy

You don't have to wait one week for Black Friday to happen because Walmart just threw another punch by offering their competitors' best Black Friday deals one week early.

So if you're not into big lines or competitive online shopping, your Black Friday can begin as early as this Friday, November 22nd. No more fighting folks the day after or the day of giving thanks! Read More »

USPS to deliver Amazon packages on Sundays for no extra cost

By (view all posts by Susan.Yoo-Lee)
at 8:47AM Monday November 11, 2013
under Newsworthy

Just in time for the holiday season, the online giant Amazon.com is offering Sunday delivery for no extra cost. While it's only available to the Los Angeles and New York markets starting this week, the retailer plans on rolling it out to other cities next year. Read More »