Updates from November, 2016 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Geebo 11:11 am on November 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , government, , taxes   

    Some towns considering a Netflix tax 

    Some towns considering a Netflix tax

    Did you ever notice that when it comes to cable options you’re pretty limited to one cable company in your area? That’s because municipalities usually enter into exclusivity arrangements with cable companies. This is why one town can have Comcast while the next town over could have Time Warner or Cox. Of course these agreements can be financial boons for many cities.

    These exclusivity agreements have been going on since the advent of cable TV. This lack of competition is also why cable companies feel they can charge outrageous monthly fees for a ton of channels that you will hardly ever use. Fast forward to today and the landscape of paid entertainment content has vastly changed. Services like Netflix have led many former cable customers to cut the cord. This means that many cities and towns aren’t getting the same financial benefit since cable subscriptions are down. In order to make up the lost revenue many municipalities are considering a ‘Netflix tax’.

    Glendale, Santa Barbara, Stockton, and Sacramento are among the more than 40 California cities who are currently seeking guidance from municipal consultants as to how they might implement a Netflix tax.

    Unfortunately it’s the regional monopolies that these cities have created for the cable companies that has led to the cord cutting movement. Monopolies breed complacency while competition breeds innovation and lower prices. Basically these cities are considering taxing the solution to the problem they caused. If that’s not governmental bureaucracy in a nutshell I don’t know what is.

     
  • Geebo 11:57 am on November 29, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , online shopping,   

    More consumers sat out Black Friday this year, opting for online shopping 

    More consumer sat out Black Friday this year opting for online shopping

    It seems that a number people took our advice, as a record number of people decided to sit out the Black Friday drama in brick and mortar stores this year. According to several financial indicators, more people decided to shop online during Black Friday than years past, with a record amount being spent just from mobile devices alone.

    Just purely based on anecdotal evidence it sure did feel like a different Black Friday from years past. As near as we can tell there weren’t the same number of soul crushing stories about consumerism turned violent as there have been in years past. Let’s not forget than when the term Black Friday was first coined it was not meant as a compliment but as a harbinger of doom.

    This isn’t to say that brick and mortar stores don’t have their uses. I’m sure most of us have been in that situation where we needed an emergency item at 3 in the morning. Until automated online retailers can teleport orders to consumers instantly, the brick and mortar stores will still be needed, however there are options now available to keep people from committing heinous acts in the name of holiday savings.

     
  • Geebo 10:56 am on November 28, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    Beware of this Amazon scam on Cyber Monday 

    Beware of this Amazon scam on Cyber Monday

    Today is known as Cyber-Monday, an internet alternative to Black Friday. It’s supposed to be a day of deals, but it can also be a day of scams.

    While you wouldn’t think of Amazon.com being a haven for scammers it sure can be. Not unlike Ebay, Amazon has a number of third-party vendors. Some of these vendors can be potential scammers, especially if they’re asking for payments in Amazon gift cards. A number of people claim that they’ve ordered something on Amazon, bur they were asked to contact the seller before purchasing the item. The seller would then request that the buyer purchase an Amazon gift card, then give them the serial number of the card. The problem was that the sellers were scammers and got away with the gift card money. Sadly, Amazon is not being very consumer friendly when it comes to the victims trying to get their money back. Amazon basically says that once the gift card is exhausted, the matter is out of their hands.

    There can be some good to take out of this story. When purchasing something online, whether it’s Amazon or not, never make a payment with gift cards to a third-party. This is a scam that has been going on since the dawn of gift cards. No legitimate retailer will ever ask you to pay this way.

    So on this Cyber-Monday, gift cards still make a great gift for someone on your Christmas list. However, they’re not good for making payments outside of the vendor itself.

     
  • Geebo 11:04 am on November 23, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Thanksgiving   

    Stay safe this Thanksgiving 

    Stay safe this Thanksgiving

    According to AAA, 48.7 million people will travel 50 miles or more this Thanksgiving season. Unfortunately, a number of these people might be under the influence of alcohol. Starting today, a number of people will start celebrating with the favorite spirits in what’s been referred to as Blackout Wednesday. Combine that with the Thanksgiving holiday itself and you have a rate of alcohol related crashes that rivals New Years Eve.

    Another aspect of safety for the holiday you may not think of is food safety. The USDA has some recommendations to help prevent an emergency room visit for food poisoning. One tip that they did not include is that if you’re going to deep fry a turkey, make sure it’s thawed first. If you don’t, the cooking oil and the extra moisture can cause the hot oil to geyser out of the fryer which can cause not only burns to anyone standing around, and has caused multiple house fires.

    So please, have a safe and happy Thanksgiving this year and many more.

     
  • Geebo 11:30 am on November 22, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Don’t let your holiday packages get stolen 

    Don't let your holiday packages get stolen

    With the holiday season upon us and with many of us foregoing brick and mortar stores for online shopping, we still have to deal with the analog world problem of making sure our deliveries don’t get stolen. There’s an entire criminal enterprise that revolves around the theft of packages from our doorsteps. Here are some steps to prevent some Grinches from stealing your Christmas.

    You can request the delivery service to only deliver the package when someone is there to sign it. Look for an option that says ‘Signature Delivery Option’. You can also arrange to have your packages held at your local delivery services branch, this way you can pick it up there rather than having unattended packages left at your door. Also consider having your packages sent to a friend or relative’s house who you know is normally home during delivery hours. Also, don’t forget that you can track your package using the delivery services tracking numbers to see where the package is in the delivery process.

    While no tip is perfect, these tips should help insure that your loved ones receive the gifts that you worked hard to get them for the holidays.

     
  • Geebo 11:00 am on November 21, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    Avoid the Black Friday drama 

    Avoid the Black Friday drama

    The topic of Black Friday has become almost as contentious as the recent Presidential election. For the past few years we’ve seen the stories of people wither being trampled or assaulted, just in the name of supposedly saving a couple of bucks on a shiny new gadget. What you should know before you start camping out for the alleged savings, is that Black Friday deals are more of a predatory practice than anything.

    One of the biggest tricks that retailers like to play on consumers on Black Friday is having limited stock on the items they’re advertising as a great deal. You’ll be lucky if the store has more than five of these items on stock. What they want you to do is find that the item has been sold out and want you to buy a similar item at full price.

    Instead of camping out or losing some of your dignity in a box store brawl, think about doing your holiday shopping online. Often times you’ll find a lot of good deals online starting on Cyber Monday, which is the Monday after Black Friday. Use the time to spend with your family or loved ones instead of laying siege on your local Wal-Mart.

     
  • Geebo 11:11 am on November 18, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: cycling, Dyson Award, EcoHelmet, Isis Shiffer,   

    Paper bike helmet: way of the future? 

    Paper bike helmet: way of the future

    A woman by the name of Isis Shiffer just won the James Dyson Award for her invention of a paper bike helmet called the EcoHelmet. Ms. Shiffer came up with the idea for the helmet after visiting cities that have bike share programs but she didn’t want to keep buying a helmet at each city. She also noted that helmets are bulky and inconvenient to carry around. The collapsible form factor of the helmet make it more portable and more convenient to carry around.

    This isn’t just a paper hat, when the EcoHelmet unfolds, its honeycomb design helps protects the users’ heads from impact. However, they’re not designed to be a permanent helmet though. Wear and tear and weather conditions will cause the helmet to need to be replaced. Ms Shiffer manufactured the helmet relatively cheaply with recycled materials so the price shouldn’t take too much of a bite out of bikers’ wallets.

    A lot of cyclists don’t even wear helmets due to them being so cumbersome when not wearing them. Ms. Shiffer herself admits that getting people to use a disposable helmet made out of paper, but hopefully the convenience of it will cause more people to protect their heads.

     
  • Geebo 11:02 am on November 17, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , dangerous toys, , watchdog groups   

    Watchdog group releases list of dangerous toys 

    Watchdog group releases list of dangerous toys

    In what has become an annual holiday season tradition, a watchdog group has released a list of the most dangerous toys being sold. While it’s been decades since the infamous lawn dart controversy, the toys on this year’s list don’t really seem that dangerous.

    All the toys listed have the potential to cause injury, but it seems that they would need to fit into some Rube Goldberg type situation for them to actually cause harm. Just about any object has the potential to do harm to children it’s up to the parent to make sure that their children know how to use them properly. Parents should be more concerned about the manufacturing process of some toys considering the lead paint threat from recent history.

    That’s not to say these lists are without merit. Without these watchdog groups looking out for us and our children we may unaware of legitimate threats from toys when they do happen.

     
  • Geebo 11:32 am on November 16, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , book, Designed by Apple in California, marketing   

    Apple releasing $300 picture book of Apple products 

    Apple releasing $300 picture book of Apple products

    There’s no question that Apple is a master of marketing. They have carefully cultivated a devout group of followers that will wait in line for every product they sell. Considering that the return of a peach emoji that looks like a human backside to iOS is newsworthy means that they have a highly dedicated fan base. Now would probably be a good time to point out that the word ‘fan’ is short for fanatic.

    Now it seems that Apple is really counting on their fanatics out there as they are releasing a $300 picture book that contains 450 pictures of nothing but Apple products. The book, entitled ‘Designed by Apple in California’, is also bound and linen and in true Apple style will come in 3 separate sizes.

    Is this something that you think is worth buying or is Apple the new P.T. Barnum? How long will it be before Apple charges for the Apple Egress?

     
  • Geebo 12:01 pm on November 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , must have toys,   

    The must have holiday toys are already gone 

    The must have holiday toys are already gone

    It seems that the Christmas season starts earlier and earlier each year and with it always come the ‘must have’ item of the season. Visiting the ghosts of Christmas Past some of us might remember the Tickle Me Elmo craze of the 1990s or the Cabbage Patch Kid rush of the 1980s. The 2010s are no exception as this years most wanted toy is a questionably cute toy called a Hatchimal.

    Hatchimals come in the shape of egg, the more a child plays with it the more the toy ‘matures’, eventually growing into a toddler version of itself. While it normally retails for $60 some people who we’ll refer to as Grinches, have been selling the toys at a steep profit climbing into the four figure range. Another item that’s been flying off the shelves is the the Nintendo NES Classic which we featured here.

    So what happens if you can’t get the hot toy of the year? Some experts believe that this would be a good life lesson for your child and will eventually make them less greedy and more appreciative of the gifts they do receive. Others suggest getting your child ‘an experience’ rather than a toy that they’ll eventually get bored with.

    So even if you don’t get the hot ticket item this year there are still many ways for you and your family to have a joyous holiday season.

     
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