Tag Archives: Here’s

California Wants to Tax Your Text Messages. Here’s Why
December 12, 2018 12:01 pm|Comments (0)

Have you found yourself texting people instead of calling them? Sure. Have you stopped to debate whether texting is a form of “telecommunications” or an “information service?” Chances are the answer is “no”.

California’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is betting you haven’t either — and the difference matters because the commission has jurisdiction over telecommunications, which includes telephone calls. What’s more, it wants to extend an existing tax on calls to include text messages, the Mercury News reports.

Should it get its way, then Californians may soon be taxed on every text they send from their cell phones.

Gather round, millennials and Generation Z, to learn about the landline era, when the U.S. federal government and states established so-called Public Purpose Programs. These programs charged all users of telephone services a surcharge that subsidized programs for lower earners. They also apply to other utilities such as electricity and natural gas. During the rise of the Internet, however, the telecoms industry managed to get an exemption for “information services” such as web browsing and email.

As mobile phone users have shifted their usage patterns away from voice calls, voice call revenues for PPP have dropped by about a third, while the budget for subsidizing poorer users has risen by almost half. So California’s PUC is exploring its options and, as texts share infrastructure with voice calls — even if the medium is different — it estimates it could raise $ 44.5 million a year with the change. Applied retroactively it could amount to a bill of more than $ 220 million for California consumers.

In response, the telecoms industry is filing complaints arguing that texting is an email-like “information service” and should be exempt from PPP. The FCC is meeting today to address the issue.

Of course, even texting is going out of fashion. Chat apps that route messages over the Internet, such as WhatsApp and iMessage, would be exempt and already represent almost triple the volume of texts, an industry group says.

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Amazon Is Expanding Whole Foods Perks to More Areas. Here’s Where
May 30, 2018 6:08 pm|Comments (0)

Amazon is quickly ramping up its efforts to bring more perks to Prime members shopping at Whole Foods stores.

The tech giant on Wednesday announced that it was expanding its Whole Foods discounts to an additional 121 stores across 12 states, including California, Colorado, and Texas. The perks will also be available at all the Whole Foods Market 365 stores across the U.S.

When Amazon Prime members buy products at participating locations, they’ll get a 10% discount on all sale items. Amazon said that the discounts typically apply to hundreds of products in the store and will change each week. This week, for instance, Prime members can get the discount on raspberries, crackers, and probiotics, among other products.

If you’re not an Amazon Prime subscriber, however, you’re out of luck. In addition to Whole Foods discounts, Prime subscribers get free two-day shipping and discounted one-day shipping on their Amazon purchases, among several other perks.

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Amazon launched its discount program earlier this month in Florida, where it did a trial of the discounts. It said at the time that it would launch the program to additional states over the summer. Amazon didn’t say in its statement on Wednesday when the Prime perks might be available to Whole Foods locations in other states.

To take advantage of the new Whole Foods offer, you’ll need to download the Whole Foods Market app. Once you sign in with your Amazon account and scan the app’s Prime Code at checkout, you’ll receive your discount.

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Here’s How Much It’ll Cost to Fix Your Busted Apple HomePod
February 9, 2018 6:05 pm|Comments (0)

Whatever you do, treat your new Apple HomePod with care.

Apple has published a new support page on its HomePod that says the company will charge customers $ 279 to repair a HomePod that is broken and out of warranty. If customers need to ship back the HomePod to Apple for repair, the company will charge an additional $ 19.95, bringing the price to $ 300 to repair an ailing HomePod. Apple charges $ 349 for a new HomePod—$ 50 more than it’ll charge to fix a damaged unit.

Luckily, you won’t need to worry about that cost anytime soon. Apple’s standard HomePod warranty covers repairs on the unit for one year. The standard warranty also includes 90 days of complimentary telephone support. After that, however, you’re on your own unless you bought the AppleCare+ HomePod warranty for your smart speaker. That option extends repairs and telephone support to two years. It’s also nicely affordable at $ 39 and a far sight from the $ 279 it’ll take to repair the device.

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Apple’s pricing is no surprise to those who have dealt with damaged products in the past. Apple is notorious for assigning high prices on repairs, which make some people think opting for AppleCare+ is the way to go. And in many cases, it is.

HomePod support pricing comes as Apple has started selling the smart speaker it unveiled last year. The device, which is now available in Apple’s stores and the company’s online marketplace, supports the company’s Siri virtual personal assistant, giving users voice control to turn on music, control smart home devices, and more.

Apple has also said that the HomePod will sound substantially better than its competitors, including Amazon Echo and Google Home.

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Here’s Why Analysts Are Still Frustrated With Twitter Despite It Reporting Its First Profit
February 8, 2018 6:05 pm|Comments (0)

Twitter surprised investors and followers Thursday with revenue gains and its first profit, but some analysts say the company is still withholding vital information.

Twitter (twtr), on its earnings conference call, declined to give hard daily active user (DAU) statistics, simply saying it achieved its fifth consecutive quarter of double digit DAU growth, with a 12% year-over-year increase. That’s all well and good, say analysts, but without actual numbers, it’s a relatively meaningless boast.

“The DAU growth metric is literally the FIRST THING in their shareholder letter,” said Wedbush Securities’ Michael Pachter via Twitter. “Their excuse that they won’t disclose is lame. If they can’t tell us the numbers, why brag about growth? It’s either important (and should be disclosed) or not (and should be ignored).”

Pachter’s frustration grew as the call went on.

And he wasn’t the only critic.

Relying on percentage growth figures without giving any sort of base is an old trick of corporations. The reigning king of this strategy is Amazon, which has yet to give hard numbers regarding Amazon Prime members, though it has regularly touted the service’s membership growth.

While Twitter won’t disclose the number of daily users, it did, however, shed some light on monthly active users. That number was roughly the same as the prior quarter at 330 million, a lower-than-projected total that the company attributed in part to stepped-up efforts to reduce spam, malicious activity, and fake accounts.

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Here’s Why You Will Soon Find Fewer Free Articles On Google
October 2, 2017 10:40 am|Comments (0)

Google does a lot to infuriate traditional media companies, but one of its most controversial policies has for years been “First Click Free,” in which it demanded that publishers have to give a certain number of articles to readers for free in order for those articles to appear high up in Google’s search results.

Publishers are increasingly moving their articles behind subscription paywalls, rather than relying on digital advertising for their revenue, so this policy has become increasingly troublesome. For example, when The Wall Street Journal stopped giving free tasters of its content earlier this year, its traffic from Google users plunged by 44%. As Google has a global search engine market share of over 90%, that level of control matters for any publisher.

Something had to give, and on Monday it did. In a blog post, Google News chief Richard Gingras announced that First Click Free was being replaced by a new policy called “Flexible Sampling.” Instead of being forced to serve up three free articles per day, publishers will instead be able to set their own number of free monthly samples—Google recommends 10 a month.

“Publishers generally recognize that giving people access to some free content is the way to persuade people to buy their product,” Gingras wrote.

Google also promised to work with publishers on making it easier for people to subscribe to their articles. Judging from Monday’s announcement, it appears Google wants to ensure that its services become central to that process.

“As a first step we’re taking advantage of our existing identity and payment technologies to help people subscribe on a publication’s website with a single click, and then seamlessly access that content anywhere—whether it’s on that publisher site or mobile app, or on Google Newsstand, Google Search or Google News,” Gingras said.

The Wall Street Journal quoted News Corp CEO Robert Thomson as saying the move was “an important first step in recognizing the value of legitimate journalism.”

Google and Facebook pretty much own the digital advertising market between them and, if subscription models become the norm, they will be vying for control of that mechanism too. Like Google, Facebook is also working on support for paywalled articles within its social network.

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Here’s What the Last Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Trailer Revealed About the Villains and Their Plans
March 27, 2017 4:30 am|Comments (0)

Last night was the premiere of the last trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy. A lot of stuff wasn’t new, but what was new was that our new villain explained herself. And Nebula got enough screentime to help us chart her path.

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Here’s what you should know, and do, about the Yahoo breach
December 19, 2016 1:50 pm|Comments (0)

Yahoo’s announcement that state-sponsored hackers stole the details of at least 500 million accounts shocks both through scale — it’s the largest data breach ever — and the potential security implications for users.

That’s because Yahoo, unlike MySpace, LinkedIn and other online services that suffered large breaches in recent years, is an email provider; and email accounts are central to users’ online lives. Not only are email addresses used for private communications, but they serve as recovery points and log-in credentials for accounts on many other websites.

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Here’s Why Google Is Focusing on Travel
November 24, 2016 6:10 pm|Comments (0)

Recently, Alphabet Inc.’s subsidiary Google introduced “Google Trips” – a mobile app intended to reduce travel related hassles by aggregating all trip information relating to day plans, reservations, things to do, etc., bundles within the app. The company has also ensured that the “download” button for each trip can save this information on the users phone offline. This launch comes nearly six years after Google acquired flight information firm ITA software and indicates the Google is finally ready to foray into the travel segment. In 2015, direct leisure travel spending by domestic and international travelers in the U.S. was more than $ 650 billion and nearly four out of five domestic trips were taken for leisure purpose. This indicates the strong potential of the market for leisure travel – the segment which Google Trips targets. We believe the company can generate significant revenues from this segment, given that its Maps app is already a hugely popular product among travelers, with more than a billion active users globally. The potential power of the platform is considerable. Google Trips leverages both Gmail and Google Maps to combine information relating to flight information and hotel reservations (via Gmail); and it additionally generates customized itineraries, based on a desired locations pinned on Google Maps via the address and location information therein. Given these breadth of these offerings, Google Trips has huge potential to capture a significant share in the online travel market.


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Here’s how secret voice commands could hijack your smarthphone
July 7, 2016 3:05 am|Comments (0)

Kitten videos are harmless, right? Except when they take over your phone.

Researchers have found something new to worry about on the internet. It turns out that a muffled voice hidden in an innocuous YouTube video could issue commands to a nearby smartphone without you even knowing it.

The researchers describe the threat in a research paper to be presented next month at the USENIX Security Symposium in Austin, Texas. They also demonstrate it in this video.

Voice recognition has taken off quickly on phones, thanks to services like Google Now and Apple’s Siri, but voice software can also make it easier to hack devices, warned Micah Sherr, a Georgetown University professor and one of the paper’s authors.

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Here’s Epic’s Oculus Touch Shooter, Bullet Train
January 6, 2016 12:45 am|Comments (0)

Here’s Epic’s Oculus Touch Shooter, Bullet Train

Oculus’ two-handed motion controls let you point your virtual guns anywhere you want.

The post Here’s Epic’s Oculus Touch Shooter, Bullet Train appeared first on WIRED.



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