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The Consumerist

Your Next Fraudulent E-Mail May Come From Your Boss

14 hours 32 min ago

fakemegIf I received an urgent e-mail from Boss Meg telling me to send a $9,000 wire transfer to Consumerist’s fedora vendor, I would know that it was some kind of scam. Paying our bills isn’t part of my job, so clearly that isn’t an e-mail that I would receive. What if that were my job, though? Companies have reported losing an average of $55,000 to a scam exactly like this, wiring money to mysterious entities who forge e-mails from the boss.

Companies do conduct a lot of business by e-mail, which is what makes this scam so scary. A fraudster might also pose as an existing vendor sending in new “account information” that goes somewhere else entirely. The goal of this scam is simple: pretend to be the boss, ask employees to send money as a fake vendor payment or investment. Once the money is sent, it will be almost impossible to recover.

Companies targeted from this scam are generally in North America or the United Kingdom, deal with vendors in other countries, and routinely send out large payments, so the errant payment might even go unnoticed for long enough that it can’t be traced. According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, the largest fraudulent payment sent was more than $800,000.

There are ways to prevent such things from happening in your workplace: make sure that multiple people have to authorize large transactions. Carefully check return addresses on messages that you receive, and even look at the headers to make sure that the message originated where it was supposed to. Require purchase orders approved by a manager for all big expenditures. Also, be wary of any transaction that you’re told is absolutely urgent, or that needs to be kept secret from other people in the organization.

A bossy business scam [Federal Trade Commission] (via Bloomberg Businessweek)
BUSINESS E-MAIL COMPROMISE [Internet Crime Complaint Center]

Family Annoyed That Southwest Misplaced 85-Year-Old Woman

Tue, 2014-08-26 23:22

(Jason Daniel Brown)

(Jason Daniel Brown)

We recently published a post about a 7-year-old traveling as an unaccompanied minor who Delta handed over to the wrong relative. Families pay for extra supervision when kids fly unaccompanied, but what about unaccompanied seniors? A family in Colorado says that instead of escorting her to her Southwest Airlines flight, airport staff parked her wheelchair out of the way for hours instead of putting her on the plane.

There is no formal “unaccompanied senior” program at Southwest, but the 85-year-old, who has diabetes and is sometimes forgetful, navigated the airport in a wheelchair. A skycap at Newark was supposed to help her to the gate. That wasn’t what happened.

“[The skycap] pushed me there and left me. I was just sitting all day in a wheelchair,” she explained to local news station CBS4. Sitting for hours with no food is particularly dangerous to a diabetic. She was visiting one daughter on the East Coast, and her other daughter back in Denver started to worry when her mom wasn’t on her scheduled flight.

There was some confusion about who was responsible, though. Skycaps, who help people and their stuff get to the gate, don’t work for airlines. They can be assigned to a particular airline’s terminal, but the person who parked this poor passenger and left her doesn’t work for Southwest.

The airline did apologize and offer the family $200 worth of travel vouchers. That’s nice, but what they really want is for airline and airport staff to take their responsibilities toward passengers who need extra help more seriously.

In a statement to the TV station, Southwest said that a “processing error” during checkin meant that the staff at the gate didn’t know to expect a passenger using a wheelchair.

We’ve researched the details of this Denver customer’s travel and can verify that she checked in for her flight at Newark Liberty International Airport two hours prior to her scheduled departure, but a processing error in that check-in process did not alert our employees at the gate to her special need (wheelchair) in boarding the aircraft.

Family Angry After It Says Airline Lost Aging Mother [CBS Denver]

Google Fixes Glitch Featuring Mysterious Photo Of Car Crash In Search Results

Tue, 2014-08-26 22:56

(Grab via WSJ)

(Grab via WSJ)

It’s unclear what exactly was causing Google’s Image search to return result upon result of a photo showing what appeared to be a car crash with a stop sign written in Russian, but whatever it was, the company says it’s fixed now.

Earlier today, some users reported getting endless photos of one particular car crash in the search results for images, unrelated to the search terms, with the photos also sprinkled throughout other news and other results as well.

The Wall Street Journal’s Digits blog notes that for example, looking for results for “Emmys” pulled up the repeat photos in the news search, which have nothing to do with who won which thing for that show where the guy wears lots of T-shirts and talks about science. And switching to simply “Images” produced a parade of the same image.

But it wasn’t every single search on Google, and it’s not known which words triggered the results or if there’s any connection to a bug or hack attack.

Google apologized for the issue and said it had been resolved.

“Oops–speaking of accidents, we’ve fixed it!” the company said in a statement, via the Washington Post. “We apologize. The least we could have done was show everyone micropigs instead.”

Google Resolves Repeat-Image Problem in Search [WSJ Digits]

Instagram’s New Hyperlapse App Turns Anyone Into A Professional Videographer

Tue, 2014-08-26 22:25

hyperlapseThere’s something new lurking over at Instagram. The social site unveiled its latest project app that allows consumers to take professional-quality video with their smartphones: Hyperlapse.

The new app creates tracking shots and fast, time-lapse videos that were once only possible with high-quality equipment, Wired reports.

“Traditionally, time-lapse videos depend on holding your phone or camera still while you film,” Instagram wrote in a blog post. “Hyperlapse from Instagram features built-in stabilization technology that lets you create moving, handheld time lapses that result in a cinematic look, quality and feel — a feat that has previously only been possible with expensive equipment.”

So how it is it possible for such a small device to produce awe-inspiring video? Apparently, Instagram created the perfect storm with engineers and imagination.

Back in 2013, Instagram data worker Thomas Dimson reconnected with a friend who had recently sold his start-up, Luma, to Instagram. While the firm’s image-stabilization technology was deployed to improve video capture in the Instagram app, the engineers saw far greater potential.

Eventually, a prototype was produced and the duo uploaded a video of the app to Instagram’s internal message board where it received a thumbs-up from company CEO and founder, Kevin Systrom.

Wired reports that boost of confidence propelled the Dimson and Karpenko to present the project at the company’s “pitch-a-thon” last January. Officials with Instagram chose to release Hyperlapse as a standalone rather than an upgrade to the current app in an effort to keep the core app simple for users.

The app seems simple enough to use: Users just have to press the record button and when they’re done filming chose a speed to run in which to run the video. The finished product can then be shared directly to Facebook or Instagram.

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Hyperlapse, Instagram’s New App, Is Like a $15,000 Video Setup in Your Hand [Wired]

Couple Accused Of Stealing $16K By Exploiting Debit Card With Magically Increasing Balance

Tue, 2014-08-26 21:57

(Aubrey Arenas)

(Aubrey Arenas)

To my knowledge, there has never been an established, official “opposite day,” whereby spending money on products you actually magically increase how much money you have, much less an “opposite bunch of months” where this happens. So when a couple using a debit card that made them richer with every purchase realized what was happening, the legal thing to do would’ve been to pipe up.

Alas, a British twosome decided to stay mum on their bit of money magic, after what was supposed to be a prepaid debit card that you know, debits money from the balance on it instead started adding funds to the account when it was used, reports the Hull Daily Mail.

The couple ended up with £10,000 — around $16,000 in “free” stuff from a local shop by using the glitchy card. After about a year of mysteriously losing money, the store owner called the police and officials realized what was going on.

“The system should have been the person who owns the card pays money in advance, then spends money on the card,” the prosecutor said. “In this case, it was the reverse. When they bought something, they were credited rather than debited so the amount on the card was increasing and that went on for nine months.”

Both the man and the woman pleaded guilty to fraud, because though they didn’t realize it wasn’t just a magic “opposite day” kind of thing at first, once they did, they kept on taking advantage of the card.

“They don’t understand how the money was put on it, whether it was a glitch in the system or the shopkeeper didn’t know how it worked, but once they realized, they did carry on like it was a golden ticket,” the woman’s lawyer explained, adding that she “regrets her involvement and the effect it had on the shopkeepers.”

‘Golden ticket’ debit card paid out £10,000, Hull Crown Court hears

This LifeAlert Ad Is Creepier Than American Horror Story

Tue, 2014-08-26 21:18

life_alert_basementFear can be a good motivator in marketing. It’s probably not such a good motivator when your ads freak everyone out so much that they leave the room or change the channel. What company has consumers so frightened that they’re begging the company to stop showing the ads? Life Alert. Yes, the people behind the often-mocked “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” ads.

Life Alert has a new spot airing, apparently on daytime television. It’s aimed at their typical audience of senior citizens who live alone, but…well, we’ll just let you watch it.

The sound isn’t necessary, if you’re at work: there’s menacing music and the voice of an older woman wailing in agony, then saying, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” to no one in particular, because there’s no one within earshot who can save her. That’s the point. The ad preys on the fears that people who live alone have: life is going on right outside her window, but too far away to hear her cries for help. The spot makes it clear that the woman will die in horrible pain stuck at the bottom of her basement stairs. It’s the cold opening of an episode of CSI: Boca Raton.

It’s meant scare you into asking “what if” about yourself or elderly loved ones. It’s effective marketing. Too effective, if you ask many viewers of the ad who have complained on the Life Alert Facebook page. We paraphrase. Slightly.

Welcome to the Facebook age: where once our complaints were written on paper or even e-mail and acknowledged privately, now we can post our complaints for the everyone to see. This is good and bad, but what really interests Consumerist is how Life Alert is responding to viewers’ concerns.

Here’s a selection of complaints posted on the Facebook wall and as comments in response to the company’s posts, lightly edited to fix major grammar and punctuation issues:

I sleep with my tv on at night and your commercial wakes me up and i think something is happening to my mother. It’s a very scary way to wake up in the middle of the night. …It’s terrible.

Stop airing that awful basement commercial with the old lady begging for help from the bottom of the stairs. It’s indecent and disturbing and wakes me up when I’m trying to fall asleep to the TV.

I do applaud you for offering Life Alert’s services. BUT I am troubled by your most recent commercial. My kids beg me to change the channel when it comes on tv, because it frightens them.

Shame on you for a commercial that is meant only to scare senior citizens. It is a disgusting way to sell any product. Stop airing the ad with the woman crying for help at the bottom of the stairs. It is truly a shameful way to try to take advantage of older Americans. If that’s what you need to sell your product, it is not worth anything.

Please stop airing that commercial with the old woman at the bottom of the stairs. I thought that her skull was going to have been cracked open and bleeding when they showed her. My own grandmother fell and cracked her hip and we brought her to the hospital immediately, but this just makes me feel so awful inside I start crying. I’m 17 years old and this is way too scary. I don’t want to see anyone in that much pain and crying when I’m just trying to enjoy my day. Please take it off the TV.

How does Life Alert respond to complaints like these? They say that when you’re lying at the bottom of your stairs wailing for help, you’ll wish that their ads had been even scarier.

In our business, we consistently hear horror stories of how families procrastinated in getting a Life Alert only to discover their loved one had fallen and was on the floor for hours (sometimes days) before someone found them. They have even complained that our commercials are corny, and NOT SERIOUS ENOUGH, and that our message doesn’t get through. The guilt and fear these families feel after a preventable tragedy is very real and far worse than any commercial.

Our goal is to wake people up to the realities of what is going on with the elderly and to get a medical alert system as a PREVENTIVE measure, not a reactionary result to a tragedy. To date we have received many calls and emails from aging parents and/or adult children thanking us for showing them the severity of the problem affecting our beloved aging community.

We understand that some people may have different tastes and either like or dislike our commercial, but the thousands of lives we are saving daily is very important to us and the families that trust us.

We hope that you will remember this commercial when it comes time for a family member who may need extra help, and although you may not choose our service, we encourage you not to wait for a tragedy to happen before getting a medical alert system for an elderly loved one.

Thank you,
Life Alert

Okay. We get that, and we’re all for being proactive and not waiting for an emergency to take precautions. Their goal is to disturb you and make you imagine yourself or someone you care about in the same position. Maybe this ad will save lives, but we know for sure that it’s freaking people out.

AppleTV Users Can Now Watch Live And On-Demand Showtime Programs

Tue, 2014-08-26 20:47

(Arnold)

(Arnold)

Apple TV users who happen to be fans of Shameless and Ray Donovan have reason to rejoice today: Showtime Anytime is coming to the streaming service. Subscribers of the channel won’t even have to wait for programs and events to be posted on-demand, instead viewers will be able to watch Showtime’s programs live. [The Verge]

Used-Car Dealer Admits To Selling Vehicles Flooded During Superstorm Sandy

Tue, 2014-08-26 20:44
(smcgee)

(smcgee)

A used-car dealer in New Jersey has admitted to selling cars damaged by flooding during superstorm Sandy in 2012 to unsuspecting customers. Some of those who drove off with lemons found their cars breaking down just minutes after leaving the dealership.

According to the Asbury Park Press, the operator of a used car dealership confessed to a judge that he used fake vehicle titles to sell the waterlogged cars, aided by a former technician at the state Motor Vehicle Commission. She admitted to make the “clean” titles for the cars in the scheme.

A salesman was also charged in the scheme, as well as a clerk and receptionist at the dealership.

The con lasted from February through July 2013, after the dealership bought eight cars at auction that had been flooded during Sandy. All were owned by the same insurance company, which had them listed as acceptable to be used “for parts only.”

That’s when authorities said the dealer, helped by the insider at the Motor Vehicle Commission’s local office, created the fake titles for the cars and forged the signatures of past owners to transfer the titles over to the dealership.

Seven of those cars were sold for a gain of $86,000.

The dealer pleaded guilty to theft by deception and is facing three years in prison. He’ll also pay the scammed customers back and won’t be able to sell vehicles in New Jersey for a certain amount of time that has yet to be determined.

“By ruthlessly cashing in on superstorm Sandy, [the dealer] not only cheated customers of his car dealership, he put those customers and other motorists at risk, because these flood-damaged vehicles had the potential to fail and even catch fire on the highway,” acting Attorney General John J . Hoffman said in a prepared statement. “Two of the cars did, in fact, fail shortly after they were purchased, but fortunately no one was hurt.”

Dealer sold Sandy-flooded cars [Asbury Park Press]

American Airlines, US Airways Remove Fares From Orbitz Amid Booking Fee Feud

Tue, 2014-08-26 20:06

(benh57)

(benh57)

American Airlines and Orbitz are giving consumers a bit of deja vu today: Three years after the two companies participated in a standoff over flight fees, they’re back at it and American has once again removed its listings from the travel booking site.

According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, American Airlines withdrew its flights from the site over continued negotiations over booking fees.

Travel sites such as Orbitz and Expedia, and other third-party ticket distributors have been working with airlines that are pushing for lower fees to cut costs.

“We have worked tirelessly with Orbitz to reach a deal with the economics that allow us to keep costs low and compete with low-cost carriers,” Scott Kirby, president of American Airlines, tells the WSJ.

Officials with American’s parent company, American Airlines Group Inc., said it would also withdraw US Airways fares from the site on Monday. American and US Airways merged late last year.

A representative with Orbitz wasn’t available for comment, the WSJ reports.

The newest issue between the airline and the ticket site doesn’t affect tickets that have already been purchased. However, any changes that consumers need to make to those tickets must be done through each airline’s reservations department.

Back in late 2010, American and Delta removed their fares from online ticket sites for similar issues. The airlines wanted more control over the distribution of their seats and to funnel more travelers to their direct website where they can also profit from lucrative hotel and car rental upgrades to tickets.

Flights began to show up on the sites again during the summer of 2011. In the case of American and Orbitz, an Illinois judge ruled that the airline had to make its flights available on the site.

American Airlines Pulls Fares From Orbitz Again [The Wall Street Journal]

Uber Testing Pre Fixe Lunch Delivery Service Called UberFRESH

Tue, 2014-08-26 19:44

uberfreshnewNot content with ferrying people or packages here and fro, Uber is now testing yet another service — lunch delivery. The service is rolling out just in the Santa Monica, Calif. area right now, the company says, and will be limited to the lunchtime hours. Because it’s lunch delivery.

Unlike normal restaurant delivery, with UberFRESH customers will be limited to a few pre-fixe options each day, instead of having an entire restaurant menu to choose from. The options are then refreshed every week. Each meal costs $12, with delivery times running between 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

For customers in that trial area, the UberFRESH service will appear as an additional toggle in the app, on the far right of the slider at the bottom of the screen. Instead of a delivery guy running up to your door, however, customers will meet up with their drivers like a normal curbside passenger pickup.

If the test run goes well through Sept. 5, Uber says it might extend the service and ostensibly, expand it to other areas.

Pumpkin Spice Gum Hits Shelves, Consumerist Editor’s Forehead Hits Desk

Tue, 2014-08-26 19:26

pumpkin spice gumAs Peak Pumpkin Spice approaches, eventually, food manufacturers will run out of items that they can inject real or artificial pumpkin flavoring and spices into. When that happens, we’ll end up with ridiculous things like pumpkin spice flavored gum. …Oh. Look at that. Well, flavor wizards if we’re going there, how about some pumpkin spice toothpaste? I don’t like gum, but I would definitely buy that. Maybe some dental floss, while you’re at it? Mouthwash? [The Impulsive Buy]

Hewlett-Packard Recalls Nearly 6 Million Power Cords Because Melting Doesn’t Charge The Computer

Tue, 2014-08-26 19:09

cordComputer power cords are meant to provide juice to your device; they aren’t meant to melt or catch fire. So when that happens, it’s time for a recall. Such is the case for Hewlett-Packard.

The computer company recalled nearly 6 million LS-15 AC power cords in the United States and Canada because they can overheat, posing a potential fire and burn hazard, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reports.

Hewlett-Packard received 29 reports of the melting or charring power cords, two that included claims of minor burns and 13 claims of minor property damage.

The black power cords were distributed with HP and Compaq notebook and mini notebook computers and with AC adapter-powered accessories such as docking stations and have an “LS-15″ molded mark on the AC adapter.

About 5.6 million power cords were sold in the United States, while 446,700 were sold in Canada from September 2010 to June 2012 at electronic stores and hp.com.

CPSC urges consumers to immediately stop using and unplug the recalled power cords. Hewlett-Packard will replace the cords for free.

Hewlett-Packard Recalls Notebook Computer AC Power Cords Due to Fire and Burn Hazards [Consumer Product Safety Commission]

Disney Wants Drone Patents So Puppets Can Fly Around In Air Shows

Tue, 2014-08-26 18:54
(ajruck)

(ajruck)

If the idea of hot air balloon creatures causes you to tremble — all those huge, leering smiles floating above like some kind of slow-moving demons just biding their creepy time — you might not want to think about puppets gamboling around in the sky controlled by drones. That’s exactly the future Disney is envisioning with three drone-related patents it’s working on.

On the other hand, if you love giant marionettes flying through the sky attached to blimps, then you’re in luck: Walt Disney filed for three patents it says will change its air shows forever, turning from fireworks and light shows to aerial movie screens blasting big images, with giant, flying characters buzzing around, reports Reuters.

The patents are for what Disney calls aerial display systems, featuring pixels that float in the air, projection screens in the sky and pre-programmed drones that would run the whole thing and prevent crashes.

“This is a significant improvement over prior flying characters, which typically were provided in the form of parade or other blimps/balloons filled with hot air or other gases and that had little and/or awkward articulation of any movable parts,” the company said in its patent application.

Disney will have to wait alongside all the other companies trying to use commercial drones in businesses, while the Federal Aviation Administration figures out exactly what kinds of rules drones will have to follow.

Personally, I’m terrified. The animatronic characters that move on their own are bad enough.

Disney seeks drone-related air show patents [Reuters]

There’s A GoPro For Dogs, But We Really Want To Know What The Sneaky Cat Is Up To

Tue, 2014-08-26 17:58

GoPro Fetch takes dog owners on a canine adventure from their best friend's point of view.

GoPro Fetch takes dog owners on a canine adventure from their best friend’s point-of-view.

The makers of GoPro, the portable camera consumers can use to capture their every adventure, have ventured into the world of the unknown: a dog’s exploits.

The canine-specific product, called GoPro Fetch, aims to provide an inside look at just what man’s best friend does when man isn’t around, Business Insider reports.

GoPro Fetch comes with a dog harness, a camera tether and the software to set up the new product with any model of GoPro camera. The kit doesn’t actually come with the camera; that’s something you have to buy separately.

Officials with the company say the device can be mounted either on the dog’s back or hanging from its chest for a variety of views including running, jumping, playing catch and terrorizing the cat – you know, whatever the pooch does in his/her spare time.

The harness, which fits all sizes of dogs from 15 to 120 pounds, is reportedly comfortable (we have yet to hear from any actual dogs on their thoughts) and won’t prevent any dog-like activities.

Unfortunately, it looks like the animal-themed GoPro is only targeted to dogs. Don’t get me wrong, I like dogs, but I’d be much more interested in a GoPro for cats.

They might not be as adventurous as their canine-brethren, but cats are sneaky and calculating, so it would probably do a lot of good to watch their every move and make sure they aren’t planning some kind of hostile takeover.

There’s Finally A Way To See Exactly What Your Dog’s Doing Throughout The Day [Business Insider]

Little Caesars Makes Pizzas Out Of Giant Flat Pretzels

Tue, 2014-08-26 17:52

Little-Caesars-pretzel-pizzaWhile chain pizzeria competitor Pizza Hut stuffs pizza crusts with anything they can think of, Little Caesars keeps it simple. Their gimmick is having “Hot-N-Ready” pizzas with basic toppings ready to go at low prices during dinner hours, so getting a pizza requires no advance thought. Now they’re joining both the Exotic Pizza Wars and the fast-food pretzel bun trend with a burger on a giant pretzel.

It was only last year that the chain added deep dish pizza to the menu, which has apparently led the company to change things up further. What goes on a pretzel pizza? The stock version, which will be available for $6 as a Hot-N-Ready option, has a cheddar-based sauce and a blend of six other cheeses melted on top of that. (If you can prefer, you can call ahead and get a tomato-based sauce on your pretzel crust instead.) Businessweek reports that early versions in the test kitchen had a mustard-based sauce under the cheese, a terrifying prospect.

Little Caesars’ Pretzel Pizza Is Unusual on Two Levels [Businessweek]

Self-Serve Coffee Shop Manages To Make Money On The Honor System

Tue, 2014-08-26 17:39

(ChrisGoldNY)

(ChrisGoldNY)

You might think that offering customers the choice to pay whatever they want for something would be a sure way to the poorhouse. But one North Dakota coffee shop is not only making its honor system work, but it’s making money.

The owner of a North Dakota coffee shop says all the attention he’s gotten lately for his idea of charging customers whatever they want to pay is nice and all, but it’s not that surprising — everyone there knows their neighbors.

“I think that people who haven’t grown up in a small, tight-knit community like this are very surprised by honesty,” he tells the Associated Press.

He and his wife run the shop in a town of about 6,700 people, and don’t employ baristas. Instead, customers pick out their choice of coffee from a dispenser or choose a single-serve Keurig option, as well as pastries and soft drinks.

Prices are listed, but it’s up to customers to decide what to pay by credit card, cash or check. Change isn’t necessary, a sign instructs, just “round down and give yourself a break or round up and help us stay in business.”

That practice has brought in 15% more money than the asking prices for items, and the customers seem happy.

“I like the self-serve,” one teen says, saying it’s nice to not feel smothered. “There’s not someone like hovering over you all the time.”

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North Dakota coffee shop works on honor system [Associated Press]

California Becomes Second State To Require “Kill Switch” On All Smartphones

Tue, 2014-08-26 17:12

(Adam Fagen)

(Adam Fagen)

California officially became the second state in the U.S. to require smartphone manufacturers to include a “kill switch” function on all devices. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill into law on Monday, just two weeks after the measure passed the state senate.

The measure would require phones made after July 1, 2015 to include a feature that allows phone owners to remotely deactivate their devices until, and only if, they are located, Reuters reports.

The new law goes a step farther than the one passed in Minnesota in May. The California law requires manufacturers to notify consumers that the kill switch technology is available, which proponents hope will prompt consumers to enable the technology.

So-called kill switches have been a hot topic for legislators, wireless industry insiders and consumers when discussing ways in which to curb the number of smartphone thefts. In 2013, an estimated 3.1 million phones were stolen nationally, costing consumers nearly $2.6 billion.

In June, a report [PDF] from several state attorneys general, prosecutors, police and other officials from around the country highlighted the difference a kill switch can make when it comes to phone thefts.

The “Secure Our Smartphones Initiative” found that phone thefts dramatically decreased after Apple introduced the “Activation Lock.”

In just the first five months of 2014, robberies and grand larcenies in New York involving Apple products dropped 19% and 29%, respectively. Statistics from San Francisco show a similar outcome, with iPhone robberies declining 38%.

Back in April, the first attempt at a California kill switch bill fell two votes short of passing in the senate. The bill’s author, Leno, blamed the failure on wireless industry trade group CTIA, which lobbied heavily against the legislation, despite having previously announced a voluntary measure to bring kill switches to phones by 2015.

California to require anti-theft ‘kill switches’ on smartphones [Reuters]

Bedbugs Continue To Infiltrate New York Subway System In Search Of Fresh Blood To Suck

Tue, 2014-08-26 16:34

(Joel Zimmer)

(Joel Zimmer)

Remember earlier this month when we told you that bedbugs were spotted on at least three New York Subway trains? Things apparently aren’t bug-free yet. In fact, the bugs seem to be staging some kind of coup – biting conductors and all.

According to the New York Daily News, a conductor on the N train – which runs from Queens to Coney Island in Brooklyn – reported being bitten by the pests on Monday.

The train was subsequently taken out of service and the conductor was taken to receive medical attention.

Over the past three days, bedbugs have been spotted on the N, Q and No. 6 lines.

The bloodsuckers have been hitching rides on the subway system for several weeks. Back in early August, two N line trains were taken out of service to be fumigated after riders and subway staff started spotting bedbugs.

A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority told the New York Daily News earlier this month that the “subway system has 5.5 million riders every single day and we can’t check all of them for bedbugs before letting them on the train.”

However, authorities have been making spot checks of crew cabins out of an “abundance of precaution.”

Bedbugs found on N train after conductor is bitten: sources [New York Daily News]

You’re Not Seeing Things, Virginia Drivers — Those Are Some Seriously Crooked Road Lines

Tue, 2014-08-26 16:22

(WJLA.com)

(WJLA.com)

Drivers in Virginia were probably rubbing their eyes and wondering if maybe someone slipped a bit of booze into their morning coffee yesterday, when the lane lines on a major roadway turned all squiggly and wiggly.

Which way do wobbly lines point? All of the ways, which can be pretty confusing, reports WJLA.com.

The Virginia Department of Transportation arrived on the scene in the afternoon, and said temporary lane striping put down by crews over the weekend had some kind of problem, causing it to peel up and move all over the road.

“It was terrible,” one driver said, who was out last night. “They were just all over the place, and my husband said, ‘Thank God I know the roads, and I was lost.’ “

The VDOT is looking into what exactly made the lane lines go unstuck, and had crews out working to fix it yesterday morning during the commuter rush.

VDOT working to fix bad lane striping causing confusion on I-66 [WJLA.com]

It’s Official: Burger King To Merge With Tim Hortons In $11B Deal

Tue, 2014-08-26 15:40
(Quadel)

(Quadel)

Young love! It happens so fast. It feels like only yesterday, after all, that we first noticed Burger King and Tim Hortons were holding hands. And now the new couple have made it official — they’ll be merging to create one of the largest fast food companies out there.

Burger King announced today that it’ll be getting together with the Canadian company in a deal worth about $11 billion, reports USA Today, resulting in the third largest quick service restaurant in the world.

The the newly formed entity will boast about $23 billion in sales and have a combined total of more than 18,000 restaurants in 100 countries.

As we heard yesterday, the new company will be based in Canada, where the taxes are slightly easier on big companies, but each brand will stay distinct. No Tim Horton The Burger King Of Coffee or anything weird like that. BK will also still keep U.S. offices in Miami, the two said in a joint statement.

“By bringing together our two iconic companies under common ownership, we are creating a global (quick service restaurant) powerhouse,” said Alex Behring, executive chairman of Burger King and managing partner of 3G Capital, the majority owner of Burger King.

He’ll be the new executive chairman and director of the new organization, with Burger King CEO Daniel Schwartz acting as group CEO and manager of day-to-day operations. Tim Hortons CEO Marc Caira will serve as vice-chairman and a director.

“As an independent brand within the new company, this transaction will enable us to move more quickly and efficiently to bring Tim Hortons iconic Canadian brand to a new global customer base,” Caira said. “At the same time, our customers, employees, franchisees and fellow Canadians can all rest assured that Tim Hortons will still be Tim Hortons following this transaction, including our core values, employee and franchisee relationships, community support and fresh coffee.”

Burger King, Tim Hortons merge into whopper-sized firm
[USA Today]

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