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  • Geebo 8:55 am on July 31, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: malls, , supermarkets   

    Can supermarkets save the mall? 

    Can supermarkets save the mall?

    We’ve discussed the decline of the American mall many times before. Thanks to all in one retailers like Wal-Mart and giant online sites like Amazon, mall after mall have been shutting their mirrored doors in the wake of these giant merchants. It almost seems like the only use for malls anymore are for YouTubers to explore dead malls.

    Now, the San Francisco Gate is reporting a new trend of supermarkets moving into mall space. While items like electronics are now mostly ordered online, most consumers still like to make food purchases at the store. Could this new trend make it more convenient and give consumers more choices for their groceries? Maybe not.

    As the old adage goes, the three most important things in real estate is location, location, location. Unfortunately, the old malls tend to have terrible locations. They were originally designed to be destinations in themselves and supermarkets depend more on convenience, like picking up a few things on your way home from work. To drive off of your commute and pull into an old mall parking lot, then driving around the mall to wherever the supermarket is located turns a quick stop into a major chore.

     
  • Geebo 8:33 am on July 28, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Why do we hate Wal-Mart but love Amazon? 

    Why do we hate Wal-Mart but love Amazon?

    Wal-Mart is no stranger to controversy. Not only has it put mom and pop outlets out of business, but it’s also been known to close down national chains in its wake. It has a reputation of underpaying and overworking its employees, and when a new Wal-Mart store is scheduled to be opened, it’s almost unanimously met with protest.

    However, tech blog The Next Web poses a very poignant question. Why do we despise Wal-Mart while Amazon is just as guilty of being cutthroat in the retail world?

    Think about it for a moment, Amazon started off selling books. Add that to the advent of Amazon’s e-reader, The Kindle, and now you would be hard-pressed to find a physical bookstore. Amazon has also crushed national chains such as Circuit City when it started selling electronics and Best Buy could be looking at the same fate. A number of consumers tend to use these stores as showrooms for Amazon, meaning they get hands on with the product at one of these stores before buying the item on Amazon. Their pending purchase of Whole Foods could put an even larger strain on what remains of the mom and pop stores. Also, much like Wal-Mart. Amazon had its own kerfuffle in recent years when some of its employees from their fulfillment centers took to the web to voice their concerns about wages and working conditions. Yet there’s been little to no protest by the public at large. Why is that?

    Is it Amazon’s hidden nature that causes us not to care? For example, we never see their workers to see how they are being treated on the job. Or is it the convenience since we don’t have to leave our homes to purchase items and don’t have to deal with the hassle of the crowds?

    It seems to be that Amazon benefits from the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ principle while it commits businesses practices that are as equally as detrimental as Wal-Mart.

     
  • Geebo 9:02 am on July 27, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    The cost of online rental scams 

    The cost of online rental scams

    A number of people tend to think that the real estate rental scams that take place online are no big deal. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Currently, southwestern Florida is experiencing a surge in these rental scams. The scam is the same one that’s been plaguing certain classifieds sites for years. A con artist, or artists, will copy an ad from a property that’s being sold and change the ad to make it appear that the property is for rent. Then the scammers will claim to be renting it at a reduced price that’s hard to resist. On top of that, they’ll try to lure in people who are either undocumented in this country or people with low credit scores. Of course the scammers will put restrictions on how you deal with them such as only contacting them through email or not letting you view the property before sending them some form of down payment or processing fee.

    WFTV in Florida supposes that if one of these scammers collected the $310 ‘processing fee’ that the scammers are asking from two people a day, the scammers could end up with a quarter million dollars in a short amount of time. That’s not even taking into account the victims who will not only be out of their money but could also find themselves without a place to live.

    The best way to find out who the true owners of the property are and if it’s for rent is to go to your county’s appraiser website. However, the best way not to get scammed is to not use that certain classifieds site that is the flame to the moth for real estate scammers.

     
  • Geebo 8:59 am on July 26, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    Backpage now takes gift cards as payment for trafficking ads 

    Backpage now takes gift cards as payment for trafficking ads

    After having the credit card companies cease doing business with them, forcing them to turn to Bitcoin, Backpage has now made it much easier and more anonymous to purchase sex ads.

    According to an article by the Dallas Morning News, Backpage is now accepting gift cards as payment for their ads for prostitution. The same gift cards you can buy from just about any store in the world, from your high-end retail outlets to your local bargain store.

    How it works is you purchase any one of these gift cards, like iTunes or Starbucks or Target, and give the card number to Backpage. Backpage then allegedly turns around and sells the card number for cash. If this sounds familiar, this is the same way craigslist scammers try to get you to pay them. If they’re not asking you to wire them money, they’re asking you to pay them in gift cards. The obvious problem with this is it breaks a chain in the paper trail. If someone pays for a gift card with cash, that’s a virtually anonymous transaction which makes it more difficult to find the victims of sex trafficking.

    So now it’s even more business as usual at Backpage. Just think, some underage girl is probably going to be sold into sexual slavery by someone who bought an iTunes gift card at Dollar General.

    The devaluation of human life continues at Backpage.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on July 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , gofundme, Snopes   

    Hoax busting site Snopes facing financial shutdown 

    Hoax busting site Snopes facing financial shutdown

    The scourge of conspiracy theorists and urban legend believers everywhere, Snopes.com is facing a financial crisis that could result in the website shutting down. Snopes was started in 1994 by the married couple of Barbara and David Mikkelson, who created the site in order to have a resource where people could debunk urban legends. Prior to the internet, urban legends would break out in various pockets of the country and would spread like wildfire with nothing to stop them. Some of these tall tales have gone on to ruin the reputations of prominent regional figures. In 2014, the couple divorced with Barbara Mikkelson selling her half of the site to a digital media corporation and that is where Snopes’ current problems seems to have originated.

    Snopes is accusing this digital media company of cutting off its advertising revenue stream in a power struggle for ownership of the site. According to the website SaveSnopes.com

    Although we maintain editorial control (for now), the vendor will not relinquish the site’s hosting to our control, so we cannot modify the site, develop it, or — most crucially — place advertising on it. The vendor continues to insert their own ads and has been withholding the advertising revenue from us.

    Because of this Snopes is going the crowd funding route by trying to raise $500,000 on the fund-raising site GoFundMe. As of this writing, Snopes has raised close to $350,000 toward its goal.

    If Snopes were to close down, it’s almost a guarantee another site could rise from its ashes. However, none of them would have the cache and credibility Snopes does. Losing Snopes would not only embolden conspiracy theorists and partisan ‘news’ sites, it would also be a great loss of a plethora of investigative information that has had a big hand in trying to prevent ignorance on the internet.

     
  • Geebo 9:02 am on July 24, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Are internet providers gearing up for the end of net neutrality? 

    Are internet providers gearing up for the end of net neutrality?

    Proponents of net neutrality have almost completely resigned themselves to the idea that the FCC will revoke the Title II status that currently regulates internet providers. Title II treats internet service as a utility, like electricity or water. This means internet providers can only provide a stream of internet and can’t throttle internet speeds for different tiers of service. The President Trump-backed FCC has already stated their intention to remove Title II status in the name of ‘over-regulation’. While Title II has not yet been removed, some customers of a wireless internet provider are claiming speeds for certain services are already being throttled.

    Many Verizon customers are claiming in the past week the wireless company has been throttling speeds to video streaming services like YouTube and Netflix. A number of Verizon customers have gone online to complain and to suggest using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) in order to get around the speed ban. Verizon has said they are testing a ‘video optimization system’, however, the optimization test is said to have resulted in lower quality video streams and excessive buffering for video content.

    While Verizon says its optimization test falls well within net neutrality exceptions, what was the test actually designed to gauge? Was it really designed for video optimization, or was it to test customer reaction to a potential slowdown for tiered data plans? Either way, Verizon didn’t appear to pass the test.

     
  • Geebo 9:52 am on July 21, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Kennmore, , Sears   

    What does Amazon’s deal with Sears mean? 

    What does Amazon's deal with Sears mean?

    Apparently, Amazon wasn’t happy with raining just on Blue Apron’s parade. Yesterday, they rained on a massive parade led by Home Depot and Lowe’s after they signed a new deal with struggling retailer Sears. Amazon will soon be selling Kennmore appliances, Sears’ flagship brand of appliances that still carries some sway in the retail space.

    According to USA Today, this will be a boon to consumers since Sears Home Service will continue to maintain warranties and replacements for the Kennmore appliances. Amazon also says that Kennmore Appliances will have Alexa connectivity capabilities in the near future. It sounds great on the surface. Not only does this give a lift to the troubled Sears, but it’s another appliance option for consumers online.

    However, and you knew there had to be a however, this feels like another domino falling in Amazon’s trek to become the only retailer both online and in brick and mortar space. It feels like another consumer choice is slipping through our fingers. That’s not even mentioning Sears’ bleak outlook for the future. Sears’ has been on virtual life support for some time now. So will Sears Home Services even be around after Sears takes its inevitable final bow? Is Amazon just placating Sears until they can buy the Kennmore brand for pennies on the dollar? Or are they even pondering gobbling up Sears whole in order to compete with Wal-Mart? This all could be a possible indicator of a retail war of epic proportions.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on July 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    No, Backpage is not an anti-trafficking tool 

    No, Backpage is not an anti-trafficking tool

    A week after the Washington Post broke the story about how Backpage was allegedly creating and editing ads for prostitution, they have now published an article where some experts have weighed in claiming Backpage is a tool for anti-trafficking. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    Backpage’s advocates try to say that the controversial website provides a central location for law enforcement to be able to find children who are being trafficked. However that raises the question of how something can be both the cause and solution to a problem. The answer is, it can’t. As has been mentioned several times in the past, Backpage is said to be responsible for 80% of all online sex trafficking. Also, Backpage is not as forthcoming to law enforcement as they reportedly claim to be.

    The reality is, if Backpage shuttered their ads for prostitution, in a real way and not their histrionic claims of government censorship, trafficking would drop by a significant amount. Not only would it be one less major avenue for traffickers but it would also discourage would be pimps from finding an easy entry into the world of sex trafficking through Backpage.

     
  • Geebo 9:02 am on July 19, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Blue Apron,   

    The road to Amazon’s retail dominance goes through Blue Apron 

    The road to Amazon's plan for retail dominance goes through Blue Apron

    If you’ve listened to or watched a well-known podcast with any regularity, you may be familiar with Blue Apron. The heavily marketed subscription service provides a meal to customers each week that comes with pre-portioned ingredients and detailed instructions. While they’re not the only game in town, they are the more well-known among the subscription meal services. However, you may want to try them while you can as Amazon seems poised to put the stake through Blue Apron’s heart.

    On the heels of Amazon’s pending purchase of Whole Foods, the online retail leader has not only announced they will be starting their own subscription meal service, but they’ve also filed a patent for a meal-kit delivery service. If this sounds like they’re intentionally targeting Blue Apron, they might just be. If the patent filing wasn’t bad enough Amazon announced the new service and patent shortly after Blue Apron filed its IPO. Suffice to say, Blue Apron’s stock has taken a nosedive.

    As the video mentions, Blue Apron appears to have been having financial trouble for some time. Their marketing investment hasn’t had the returns they had hoped, but that’s not the story here. The real story is whether or not Amazon is conducting predatory business practices. While it could all be a coincidence, Amazon’s timing seems awfully convenient. Businesses constantly come and go, but fewer choices for consumers is never a good thing.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on July 18, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Facebook to place ads in its ads 

    Facebook to place ads in its ads

    It should go without saying that Facebook loves advertising. It’s no secret the social network tries to cram as much advertising into its products as possible. Sometimes it can be as subtle as a post in your news feed, and others can be as blatant as the ads in the sidebar of the site. They’ve even started recently placing ads within their stand alone messenger. However, Facebook is still not content with its advertisement saturation. They still want to place even more ads within their platform, so they’ve decided to place ads within other ads.

    Facebook has now rolled out a pilot program where they’re testing ads within Facebook Marketplace, the service where users already post ads for items they want to sell. So far, these new sponsored ads are only on the mobile version of Marketplace and advertisers are not being charged during the test program period.

    While advertising pays for much of the internet and allows us to have free services like Facebook, how much advertising is too much? Some say we’ve already reached a tipping point with the proliferation of ad-blockers and the like. If platforms become too reliant on advertising, could we see a return to the days of pop-up and pop-under ads, or will services that were once free start going behind a paywall? It’s up to the platform themselves to balance the fine line between profit and user experience. If you lean too heavily on profit it could drive users away, however, paywalls are notorious for driving users away as many people using the internet feel they shouldn’t have to pay for many of the platforms they use.

    Then again, it is Facebook. It’s not like they’re about to lose a ton of users to Google Plus.

     
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