Comcast has come up with a new way to fight cord cutters. And it sucks.
In markets where Comcast is a monopoly or duopoly, cord cutters who don’t pay for cable channels will be relegated to super-slow Internet speeds.
Comcast has long been imposing data caps on customers. So now, if you agree to buy cable, your Internet speed is being increased at no extra charge — for now.
“Cord cutters are not invited to the [speed increase] party,” the Houston Chronicle wrote. “Only those who bundle Internet with cable television and other services… will see their speeds go up at no extra charge.”
Cord Cutters Cost Comcast Cash
In their latest quarterly earnings statement, Comcast said it lost 96,000 video customers and saw video revenue decrease 0.8 percent, “primarily due to a decline in the number of residential customers.”
Kids’ TV networks have lost half of their audiences over the past decade. And this season is looking like it’ll be the worst yet. Hardly anyone in the industry predicts a turnaround.
The Netflix Generation
With its shares climbing 58 percent this year, Netflix is bringing more youth-oriented production in-house. Netflix hired hired Melissa Cobb away from a DreamWorks joint venture to run its kids and family division. The division just produced a new live-action series, “Alexa & Katie.”
Cord cutting will only accelerate as new batches of kids raised on the Internet join the fray. Networks are going to have to figure out how to make more money from shows they produced – whether they are online or or broadcast on the tube.
Here are seven apps that are much more fun than the news.
You need to spend time with these apps (some are actually useful) because these days too much news will drive you bananas. For example, before noon today, Paul Ryan announced his retirement; John Boehner announced that he’s joining one of the biggest pot companies; the president’s bellicose Tweets threatened to start World War 3.
And then, Mark Zuckerberg testified for four or five hours before Congress, where some Congresspersons were no better versed in Facebook than they were in the thousand-page bills that they admit to signing without reading.
1- Horror Channel Night Terror Alarm Clock Have trouble waking up in the morning? Use the horror alarm to wake up with a scream… you’ll be glad to get out of bed. This will definitely get you up without hitting the snooze alarm. It does have a panic button, in case you chicken out.
2- If that’s too scary, there’s Wakie – a fun, friendly community of people who wake each other up in the morning.
3- Shhhh is a mobile application that turns off all notifications and alarms automatically to stay tuned with friends and family when spending time together. And to give you quiet time to get work done.
Paint Your Photos
4- Procreate is a multi-award winning painting app for iPad designed for creative professionals. Made exclusively for iPad, Procreate allows you to create sketches, paintings, and illustrations. It costs $9.99.
An artist who goes by the name Subway Doodle uses Procreate to add monsters to photos he takes on iPhone and transfers to iPad. He sells prints on instagram for $25 and up on his website. He says Subway Doodle resides in Brooklyn, NY with a house full of monsters. Every purchase goes directly to feeding their insatiable appetite for bacon. This one is called Subway Tourists.
5- Invisible Boyfriend Gives you real-world and social proof you’re in a relationship so you can get back to living life on your own terms. Let’s you have text conversations, share photos, tell a believable story about your “invisible boyfriend”
6- Noisli – A choice of background sounds helps you improve focus and enhance creativity.
A new study suggests that the ambient background noise or buzz of conversation in public places can fuel creativity, for example. But if coffee shop buzz doesn’t do it for you, how about the ocean and birds, rain, train whistles….
Guess My Age
7- How Old? – upload your photo and it tells you how old you look. Here’s one it got wrong (in a nice way) about me.:)
What 25 million people gave to “Most Used Words” Quiz Creator
If you’re one of the more than 25 million people who took the “Most Used Words” quiz on Facebook, here’s what Paul Bischoff of Comparitech says you gave away about yourself and your friends to Vonvon.me, creator of the app:
Name, profile picture, age, sex, birthday, and other public info
Entire friend list
Everything you’ve ever posted on your timeline
All of your photos and photos you’re tagged in
Your education history
Hometown and current city
Everything you’ve ever liked on Facebook
Info about the device you’re using including browser and language
Perhaps worst of all, your friends are not notified when you use a Facebook app or quiz and provide access to their information.
Important: Watch my interview with Bischoff to learn the three things you need to change in your privacy settings before you use another Facebook app or take a quiz.
Depending on the requirements of the app or quiz creator, you sometimes can remove all permissions except your public profile and Facebook timeline posts, and still use the app or play the quiz. However, as Bischoff points out, “most people that play probably won’t bother.”
Facebook Quiz Dangers
Like so many of the quizes and apps that are shared on Facebook, the “Most Used Words” app is free, quick and kinda fun. The problem: instead of using it within Facebook (who already knows everything about your entire life), you use the quiz and apps on third party sites that collect and can store the information about you and all of your friends on their servers. Those servers could be anywhere in the world, even in countries that have very lax privacy laws.
What do they do with your information? Facebook prohibits them from selling your data, but how is that rule enforced? There’s no way to know.
Changes you need to make
The good news: you can change your privacy settings, and the information you share with apps, and Bischoff tells you how to do that in this interview. Or you can resist the urge to use the next Facebook app or play the next quiz that comes around.
Please Note: I first published this post in 2015, but I’m running it again as a public service.
Lady-friendly Doritos will be smaller and they’ll “make less of a crunch noise.” While they’ll surely cost as much as manly Doritos, they’ll come in a packet “specifically designed to fit inside a handbag,” PepsiCo C.E.O. Indra Nooyi told Freakonomics Radio.
Nooyi says Lady-Friendly Doritos and similar products that are in the works are based on research showing that men and women eat chips differently.
Women Would Love To…But They Don’t
“As you watch a lot of the young guys eat the chips, they love their Doritos, and they lick their fingers with great glee, and when they reach the bottom of the bag they pour the little broken pieces into their mouth, because they don’t want to lose that taste of the flavor, and the broken chips in the bottom. … Women I think would love to do the same, but they don’t. They don’t like to crunch too loudly in public. And they don’t lick their fingers generously and they don’t like to pour the little broken pieces and the flavor into their mouth.”
That was Retweeted 58,000 times and got 155,000 likes, including mine.
A lot has been written, posted and Tweeted this week about Harvey Weinstein and the prevalence of sexual assault in not only the movie industry, but all industries.
Every Woman I Know Has a Story to Tell
I don’t know a woman who doesn’t have a story to tell, including me. They’re stories about how we didn’t tell anyone for fear of harming our careers, of being accused of doing something to bring it on, or, worst of all, of not being believed.
It takes a lot to tell these stories publicly, and there have been some very notable ones told this week.
Will anything change?
Is Bill Cosby in jail? Will Harvey Weinstein go to jail? Will the statutes of limitation change?
Maybe, if women – and men – keep speaking up and speaking out, we’ll force change. That’s a big maybe. But it’s a start.
As Sophie Gilbert says “The power of #MeToo, though, is that it takes something that women had long kept quiet about and transforms it into a movement. Unlike many kinds of social-media activism, it isn’t a call to action or the beginning of a campaign, culminating in a series of protests and speeches and events. It’s simply an attempt to get people to understand the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault in society.”
Taking a course that includes the word “bullshit” in its title is many a student’s dream. Now University of Washington professors Carl Bergstrom and Jevin West are making it a reality. Their 10-week seminar, temptingly named “Calling Bullshit in the Age of Big Data” begins in March.
The professors say “We will be astonished if these skills do not turn out to be among the most useful and most broadly applicable of those that you acquire during the course of your college education.” Each of the “Calling Bullshit” lectures, says the syllabus, “will explore one specific facet of bullshit.”
In the age of “fake news” and “alternative facts” this course promises you will be able to “provide your crystals-and-homeopathy aunt or casually racist uncle with an accessible and persuasive explanation of why a claim is bullshit.”
The “Calling Bullshit” course covers “The art, science, and moral imperative of calling bullshit.” Among the course lectures are:
– Introduction to bullshit
– Spotting bullshit
– The natural ecology of bullshit
– Predatory publishing and scientific misconduct
– The ethics of calling bullshit.
– Fake news
– Refuting bullshit
I lost my memory of the time between when the first tower fell on Sept 11, 2001 and when a first responder helped me and my dog get to a hospital. The 9/11 events I do remember come up less often now, mostly in bad dreams, or with the prolonged sound of sirens. Or certain sounds the wind makes.
But those are not the most important memories of the day.
I lived three blocks south and we were evacuated to Battery Park. I’ll never forget the smells, the smoke, the screams, the jumpers. But then it goes blank for a few hours and has never come back.
One most important memory
What I remember most of all about 9/11 – and will never forget – is people helping each other. Street vendors handed out water. One hotdog vendor gave out ice cream. I fed it to Sam, my Labrador Retriever, who hadn’t had breakfast before we started running. Somebody handed us towels.
People picked up others who fell when we ran. Strangers shared water, gave their jackets to people whose shirts were torn. People whose phone still had signals let other people make calls and send messages to family.
People were kind on 9/11. Because people, inherently, are kind.
I can’t explain the hate that has surfaced in so many corners since that day. What damn difference does it make what religion one practices? Or the color of one’s skin? People have been killing each other over these issues for millennia. How could a anyone want to fight over things like that? Time doesn’t seem to teach the lessons we need most of all.
Yet, I believe that most people – given the chance – are inherently good. Some lose their way, apparently. But in the end, love will trump evil and hate. That’s the memory I hope we can all keep in mind.
I miss civility, kindness, intelligence and love in our President. I am sad beyond words at what America is becoming under the new administration. Here, more eloquently than I could ever say it, are excerpts President Barack Obama’s Dreamers statement in response to Trump’s heinous DACA announcement.
“Immigration can be a controversial topic. We all want safe, secure borders and a dynamic economy, and people of goodwill can have legitimate disagreements about how to fix our immigration system so that everybody plays by the rules.
But that’s not what the action that the White House took today is about. This is about young people who grew up in America – kids who study in our schools, young adults who are starting careers, patriots who pledge allegiance to our flag. These Dreamers are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper. They were brought to this country by their parents, sometimes even as infants. They may not know a country besides ours. They may not even know a language besides English. They often have no idea they’re undocumented until they apply for a job, or college, or a driver’s license.
But today, that shadow has been cast over some of our best and brightest young people once again. To target these young people is wrong – because they have done nothing wrong. It is self-defeating – because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military, and otherwise contribute to the country we love. And it is cruel. What if our kid’s science teacher, or our friendly neighbor turns out to be a Dreamer? Where are we supposed to send her? To a country she doesn’t know or remember, with a language she may not even speak?
Let’s be clear: the action taken today isn’t required legally. It’s a political decision, and a moral question. Whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about immigration in general, we shouldn’t threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us. They are that pitcher on our kid’s softball team, that first responder who helps out his community after a disaster, that cadet in ROTC who wants nothing more than to wear the uniform of the country that gave him a chance. Kicking them out won’t lower the unemployment rate, or lighten anyone’s taxes, or raise anybody’s wages.
Ultimately, this is about basic decency. This is about whether we are a people who kick hopeful young strivers out of America, or whether we treat them the way we’d want our own kids to be treated. It’s about who we are as a people – and who we want to be.
What makes us American is not a question of what we look like, or where our names come from, or the way we pray. What makes us American is our fidelity to a set of ideals – that all of us are created equal; that all of us deserve the chance to make of our lives what we will; that all of us share an obligation to stand up, speak out, and secure our most cherished values for the next generation. That’s how America has traveled this far. That’s how, if we keep at it, we will ultimately reach that more perfect union.”
NASA is looking for a Planetary Protection Officer to protect the planet from potential alien contamination. The U.S. government’s official employment site posted the job ad. U.S. citizens and nationals have until August 14 to apply. One of the applicants is a 9 year-old self-appointed Guardian of the Galaxy.
The job comes pays between $124,406 to $187,000 per year—and security clearance is listed as “secret.” The role involves stopping astronauts and robots from getting contaminated with any organic and biological material during space travel. “Candidates must have “broad engineering expertise,” and should be an expert in planetary protection,” according to the ad.
9 year-old Guardian of the Galaxy applies
Nine year-old Jack Davis, self-appointed Guardian of the Galaxy, applied for the job. NASA sent him a seriously, and sent a wonderful response.
“At NASA, we love to teach kids about space and inspire them to be the next generation of explorers,” NASA’s Planetary Science Director Jim Green said. “Think of it as a gravity assist — a boost that may positively and forever change a person’s course in life, and our footprint in the universe.”
He also received a phone call from NASA’s Planetary Research Director, Jonathan Rall at NASA Headquarters in Washington, to congratulate him on his interest in the position.
What an extraordinary way to encourage a young man’s dreams!