Las TIC’s y la educación (España) #citas #quotes #education

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Cómo funcionan las gafas de Google #infografia #infographic #tech

Hola: Una infografía sobre Cómo funcionan las gafas de Google. Vía Un saludo

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Las Redes Sociales causan ansiedad en las pymes #infografia #infographic #socialmedia

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Informe PISA adultos matemáticas #infografia #infographic #education

Hola: Una infografía sobre el Informe PISA adultos matemáticas. Un saludo

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16 tipos de usuarios de FaceBook #infografia #infographic #socialmedia

Hola: Una infografía sobre 16 tipos de usuarios de FaceBook. Un saludo

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FCC Chair Asks Wireless Industry To Make Cellphone Unlocking Easier For Consumers



A year ago, the Librarian of Congress — who has the authority to interpret the fine points of the much-derided Digital Millennium Copyright Act, inexplicably reversed his previous rulings regarding the rights of consumers to unlock wireless devices by making it illegal for people to unlock new phones and tablets without permission from their wireless provider. That change went into effect in January, and since then, everyone from consumers to lawmakers to the White House have declared it a huge mistake that needs to be rethought. Today, new FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler urged the wireless industry to put voluntary standards in place that would at least make it easier for consumers to know when they can unlock their devices.

The big issue with locking and unlocking devices is that most people don’t pay face value for their phones, but instead get them as part of two-year contracts with their wireless providers, who subsidize the retail cost of the devices. Even people who sign up for one of the newer programs where you eventually pay full price for the phone are still under that carrier’s thumb until the device is paid off in full. Thus, the wireless industry has long held that you shouldn’t be able to unlock that phone and take it to another carrier without first checking with your current provider.

But when that contract is up, or when you’ve paid your early termination fee, why should you need the carrier’s permission and assistance to unlock your device, something consumers had legally been able to do on their own since 2006?

One of the arguments made by the wireless industry involves the (often unwanted) apps and other software placed on phones by the carrier. The wireless industry maintains that you don’t own that software even if you own the phone, but are merely using it per the terms of a licensing agreement (that you can’t turn down). So again, the industry — and now the Librarian of Congress — says you need the carrier’s permission to take that phone elsewhere.

And while some lawmakers have pushed for new laws that would clarify this point and give consumers who own their phones outright the ability to do what they please with them, the FCC has been trying to work with CTIA — The Wireless Association for several months to come up with a voluntary standard that would at least make the process as painless as possible for consumers.

After eight months of back-and-forth — during which FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski stepped down — newly installed FCC Chair Wheeler has decided it’s time for CTIA to agree to the voluntary standards or face new regulations.

In a letter to CTIA CEO Steve Largent (yes, that Steve Largent), Wheeler breaks down what he sees as the five requirements for revised unlocking standards for the CTIA Consumer Code:

1. A clear, concise, and readily accessible policy on unlocking.

2. That wireless companies agree to unlock mobile wireless devices for customers, former customers, and legitimate owners when the applicable service contract, installment plant or ETF [early termination fee] has been fulfilled.

3. Wireless providers will take the proactive step of notifying customers when their devices are eligible for unlocking and/or automatically unlock devices when eligible, without an additional fee.

4. That carriers will either process unlocking requests or provide an explanation of denial within two business days.

5. Providers will unlock devices for military personnel upon deployment.

Wheeler says that CTIA and FCC appear to be seeing eye-to-eye on all but one of these conditions. If you guessed #3, you’d be correct. Seems like the wireless industry doesn’t mind making the unlocking process easier, but it doesn’t want to tell you when your device can be unlocked.

This is a particularly bad sticking point, writes Wheeler, who says that, “Absent the consumer’s right to be informed about unlocking eligibility, any voluntary program would be a hollow shell.”

The letter throws down the deadline of the December holidays for CTIA to voluntarily make these changes or face the fun of being further regulated by the FCC.

“Enough time has passed,” writes Wheeler, “and it is now time for the industry to act voluntarily.”

George Slover, Senior Policy Counsel for Consumers Union expressed the organization’s optimistic view of the Chairman’s letter.

“We are pleased that cell phone unlocking appears to be a top priority for the new Chairman and we welcome movement on the issue,” says Slover. “We have continually advocated that any solution to this consumer problem be comprehensive and apply to the broadest range of wireless devices. It is critical that consumers know that they have this right and how to take advantage of it. We look forward to seeing how industry responds to the Chairman’s push.”

Here is a PDF of the letter, or you can read the full text below:

Dear Steve,

During my first week of the job, I continually emphasized the importance of competition and the FCC’s receptiveness to voluntary industry activities to promote competition. For eight months, the FCC staff has been working with CTIA on an amendment to your Consumer Code in which this industry would address consumers’ rights to unlock their mobile wireless devices once their contracts are fulfilled.

The Commission has indicated that any such policy must contain five parts: (a) provide a clear, concise, and readily accessible policy on unlocking; (b) unlock mobile wireless devices for customers, former customers, and legitimate owners when the applicable service contract, installment plant or ETF [early termination fee] has been fulfilled; (c) affirmatively notify customers when their devices are eligible for unlocking and/or automatically unlock devices when eligible, without an additional fee; (d) process unlocking requests or provide an explanation of denial within two business days; and (e) unlock devices for military personnel upon deployment. It appears that CTIA and the FCC are in agreement on all but the third item regarding consumer notification. Absent the consumer’s right to be informed about unlocking eligibility, any voluntary program would be a hollow shell.

We are anxious to work with you and your members to resolve this matter expeditiously. Enough time has passed, and it is now time for the industry to act voluntarily or for the FCC to regulate. Let’s set a goal of including the full unlocking rights policy in the CTIA Consumer Code before the December holiday season.

We look forward to working with you on this policy as well as continuing to work together after its adoption to monitor its implementation.


Tom Wheeler


by Chris Morran via Consumerist

La experiencia de la Triple Pantalla #infografia #infographic #marketing

Hola: Una infografía sobre la experiencia de la Triple Pantalla. Un saludo

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La etapa preescolar de los niños (3-6 años) #infografia #infographic #education

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El poder del Hashtag #infografia #infographic #socialmedia

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La perfecta campaña de SMS marketing #infografia #infographic #marketing

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¿Te conviene un PC o un Mac? #infografia #infographic #apple

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Denuncias por el Buen Fin en México #infografia #infographic #marketing

Hola: Una infografía sobre las denuncias por el Buen Fin en México. Un saludo

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MPAA Wants Theaters To Call Cops On People Who Dare Take A Photo During A Movie

Call us skeptical, but we have a hunch this MPAA poster will do nothing to curb rude texters, obnoxious talkers, or illegal recorders.

Call us skeptical, but we have a hunch this MPAA poster will do nothing to curb rude texters, obnoxious talkers, or illegal recorders.

The Motion Picture Association of America has released new best practices guidelines for movie theater operators who want to crack down on that worst of crimes — the shaky-cam pirated movie. To that end, the MPAA is suggesting a zero-tolerance policy, not just for people caught trying to record a motion picture, but for anyone who dares to take out their cellphone to take a photo during a screening.

“Many laws enacted to prevent the recording of a movie being shown on a theater screen also prohibit the taking of still pictures and the recording of audio,” writes the MPAA. “Theater managers should immediately alert law enforcement authorities whenever they suspect prohibited activity is taking place. Do not assume that a cell phone or digital camera is being used to take still photographs and not a full-length video recording. Let the proper authorities determine what laws may have been violated and what enforcement action should be taken.”

That’s right. Theater owners should just assume that anyone who pulls out a phone during a movie is a thief looking to deprive Ben Affleck’s children of their next meal. And rather than simply remove that suspected copyright terrorist from the theater — like Alamo Drafthouse does with people who text during movies — the MPAA says theater owners need to alert the authorities.

TorrentFreak points out that the MPAA guidelines still want theater owners to be especially wary of employees’ friends and third-party security staffers.

“Does one member of your staff frequently have ‘friends’ joining them at the theater at odd times?” asks the best practices document. “Look for non-employees coming or going out of the projectionist’s booth or those arriving at odd hours claiming to be ‘friends’ of an employee or manager.”

Because those people are obviously not there to hang out with their bored theater-employee friends. No, they are obviously there to make billions of dollars by recording a copy of Blue Is the Warmest Color to be sold on the streets. Or maybe they’re just anarchists who want to share it for free online!?

You can read a 184155847-Movie-Theft-Best-Practices-MPAA-pdf.

by Chris Morran via Consumerist

Target’s $200 iPad Trade-In Deal A Victim Of Its Own Awesomeness

Last week, there was a great promotion at Target. Target Mobile locations always accept electronics trade-ins, but they offered a special deal in order to move some iPads. Customers could trade in any working iPad, dating back to the positively ancient iPad 1 from 2010, and get a minimum of $200 on a Target Mobile gift card. That’s a good deal, and it was very popular.

How popular? Customers reported waiting, with mini-crowds, for their chance to trade in their iPads when the stores opened. That’s when they learned that the trade-in store credit could only go on gift cards specific to the Target Mobile staff, and they don’t keep dozens of those cards lying around per store. If a customer showed up and the store was out of cards? Well, too bad.

Reader Jeff set out to trade in his iPad on Friday, the second-to-last day of the promotion. They should have a fresh stock of cards, ready for the weekend, right? Nope. He writes:

I showed up on a Friday to my local store – a few dozen people were milling around and we got a number of stories but apart from being told to try other stores, which a number of people had already done, the only thing they would do is let us write our name in pencil on a sheet of paper with a phone number to contact us when more cards came in.

I called another store and they were not even doing that, just advising that you get there at 8:00 am to wait for cards coming in at 11:00 AM. Pointing out that nothing in the ad said “Limited Supply” or “First come first served” we were eventually handed out individual slips with Target’s 800 number to call.

Each one of us got a different explanation and story but no resolution.

I stupidly returned on Saturday only to find that only 15 cards had come in and sure enough went to the first 15 people in line. At least I was not like dozens of others who had waited for 45 minutes in line before being told that there were no more cards – that was it, end of promotion. Again, nothing we could do, no way to register that we had met our part of the offer but Target did not live up to theirs.

Further calls to the 800 number revealed that most of the CRs had no idea what to say either. Requests to speak to supervisors ended up in muzak and then a reply that the supervisor had said the promotion was ending because of the lack of cards????? That’s it, all over because we said so, forget any promise we put in writing.

If Target’s aim was to truly alienate any prospective customers for its electronics, and also confuse and subject their personnel to a lot of frustration and abuse, well they succeeded admirably.

That probably wasn’t the case: unlike some companies, Target seems to be really into selling merchandise to their customers. Reader Chad had a similar experience, though: store ran out of cards, no more iPad trade-ins.

I spoke to a manager at my local store in [redacted] about the possibility of a raincheck or some other workaround, but he declined.

Basically, those of us who made special trips to Target for the promotion are out of luck.

Stores aren’t really set up to provide rain checks on giving customers money, as opposed to offering a sale price.

We contacted Target to find out what happened with this promotion from their point of view. While our readers who found chaos and a total lack of trade-ins might disagree, the problem from the stores’ point of view was that the promotion was just too successful.

Target offered an iPad trade-in promotion from November 3 to November 9. During this time period, guests received a Target trade-in gift card worth at least $200 in exchange for any previous model working iPad. The response to the iPad trade-in promotion was overwhelmingly positive and far exceeded Target’s expectations.

Throughout the duration of the promotion, we worked continuously to replenish the electronics trade-in gift cards in stores with low inventory levels. While this special promotion has ended, Target’s electronics trade-in program is always available to our guests at Target Mobile Centers and via

You won’t get that guaranteed $200 minimum, but you can trade in your

by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

La máquina de crear Author Rank #infografia #infographic #marketing

Hola: Una infografía sobre la máquina de crear Author Rank. Vía Un saludo

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La evolución de los dispositivos Nexus #infografia #infographic

Hola: Una infografía sobre la evolución de los dispositivos Nexus. Un saludo (Click infographic to enlarge.) Source: Evolution of Nexus devices. Brought to you by Inch

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El rápido crecimiento de la web visual #infografia #infographic #socialmedia

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Expertos SEO nos revelan el futuro del Marketing #infografia #infographic

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6 formas de evitar la obsolescencia del SEO #infografia #infographic #seo

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El Buen Fin en México se hace digital #infografia #infographic #marketing

Hola: Una infografía que nos dice que el Buen Fin en México se hace digital. Vía Un saludo

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Consumo de datos móviles en el Mundo #infografia #infographic #internet

Hola: Una infografía sobre el consumo de datos móviles en el Mundo. Un saludo You will find more statistics at Statista

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Customer Writes Negative Review After Never Receiving Order, Site Fines Her $3.5K

We’ve all seen the social media meltdowns that can ensue when customers write negative things about a company online, which always result in the company looking like the bad guy whether it is or not. But one online retailer has taken that revenge into the real world, slapping an unsatisfied customer with a $3,500 fine and dinging her credit score after she didn’t pay up.

A few years ago, Jen’s husband ordered a bunch of trinkets from a website that appears to deal in the sort of odds and ends one might find at a Spencer’s Gifts. But 30 days after he ordered it, the products hadn’t arrived and PayPal canceled the transaction, she tells

She wanted to know why the items never showed up, so she did what any logical customer would do and called up the company to get some information. Unfortunately she couldn’t reach anyone, so she channeled her frustration into a negative review on

“There is absolutely no way to get in touch with a physical human being,” it says, accusing the company of having “horrible customer service practices.”

Done and done, right? Wrong. Fast forward three years later when her husband got an email from the company (which means someone works there after all, eh?) demanding that the post be taken down or they would be fined.

The company cited a “non-disparagement contract” within its terms of sale with a clause that it says gives it the right to demand such a fine:

“In an effort to ensure fair and honest public feedback, and to prevent the publishing of libelous content in any form, your acceptance of this sales contract prohibits you from taking any action that negatively impacts, its reputation, products, services, management or employees.”

If you violate that contract, the clause says a consumer has 72 hours to remove the post or face the $3,500 fine. If it’s not paid, the delinquency is then reported to credit bureaus.

“This is fraud,” the woman says. “They’re blackmailing us for telling the truth.”

She and her husband attempted to get to pull the review but were told that wasn’t going to happen, and the credit bureaus say that because the company claims the charge is valid, the credit dent will remain.

When dug a little deeper, the news team found that the company had an “F” rating from the Better Business Bureau in 2010 (two years after the order was placed) for “not delivering products purchased online in a timely manner.”

The company also claimed in an email to via an unidentified person that the $3,500 fine and the alleged threat of removing the post or facing the fine wasn’t blackmail, just a “diligent effort to help them avoid [the fine].”

The news station spoke to a First Amendment attorney who pretty much said exactly what we’re thinking — this is unheard of.

“I think this is outrageous that a company like this would force a consumer to relinquish their first amendment rights to speak about their product as a condition of sale,” Hunt said. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

He says, and we agree that there’s a pretty darn good chance any judge facing this issue in court would throw out a non-disparagement clause as unconstitutional.

“I have a serious question about whether a court would enforce that kind of covenant because it’s massively over broad and against public policy,” he explains.

In the meantime, the couple can’t afford an attorney to fight the clause on the grounds of its likely unconstitutionality but are working with Experian to try and fix the damage done to their credit.

How about this for a sales contract? You sell me something, you deliver it. You don’t, well then your contract is null and void, sir. Harrumph.

Previously in vengeful companies: Criticize Dentist On Yelp, Get Threatened With Felony ‘Internet Business Defamation’; Shoe Store Allegedly Bans Mom Over Son’s Negative Yelp Review; Restaurant Owner Gets 90 Days In Jail For Creating Fake Sex Site Profile For Unsatisfied Customer; Restaurant Owner Gets Revenge On A Customer With A Fake Sex Site Profile, Hooks Up With Libel Conviction

Fined For Posting A Negative Review Online []

by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

California Pulls Plug On 10 Bogus Healthcare Sites is the only official California state insurance marketplace. is the only official California state insurance marketplace.

Confusion over the Affordable Care Act is already causing more than a few headaches these days. The last thing consumers need is scam websites set up to look like official state exchanges with the purpose of tricking people into turning over their personal information. Today, California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced that her office has shut down 10 sites passing themselves off as the state’s official insurance marketplace.

Harris says that the investigation began in September, with cease-and-desist notices going out to site operators — some run by private insurance brokers — allegedly attempting to draw customers in with domain names similar to Covered California (, the state’s official healthcare exchange, and which contain unauthorized references to the exchange’s trademarked logo and name.

“These websites fraudulently imitated Covered California in order to lure consumers away from plans that provide the benefits of the Affordable Care Act,” AG Harris said in a statement.

Under state law, individuals and businesses are forbidden from claiming to provide services on behalf of Covered California without securing a valid agreement with the State Exchange. Likewise, California law prohibits solicitations that falsely imply a governmental connection, the use of a domain name that is confusingly similar to another entity, making or disseminating untrue or misleading representations with the intent of selling goods or services, and unfair competition through untrue or misleading advertising.

Harris’s office says that all sites have complied thus far, either by taking down their content or by redirecting to the actual site at

While many of the sites involved in the investigation had URLs that most people would sniff out as sketchy —, — some just as much or more sense than the state’s, like the rather obvious (which is just a blank page now; probably confusing for people who go there thinking it’s the real site).

Harris also issued a warning to California consumers that they should be wary of calls or communications from anyone claiming to be a government official who asks for your personal information like a Social Security number or Medicare card number. Do not give this information to the person, but contact Covered California directly.

by Chris Morran via Consumerist

Did This Mom Really Find Free-Range Maggots In Plum Organics Pouch?

plum organicsJack likes to feed his small daughter little food pouches. They’re an easy, shelf-stable and portable way to get actual food substances into small children. His daughter loves them, but suddenly wouldn’t eat them. Ingredient change? Plain old little-kid fickleness? Maybe not.

Parents and kids love these pouches, or so we hear. Small quantities of actual organic fruits and vegetables, in a convenient and portable package! How could you go wrong? Well, for starters, maggots.

Officially, the problem is “manufacturing defect that may cause spoilage in some pouches.” Affected pouches may, according to the recall notice, “swell.” That’s pretty gross, and may be why Jack’s daughter suddenly lost her taste for the product. An even more gross consequence showed up in parenting circles online: insect larvae infestations.

Here’s the photo of a butternut squash-pear entrée that circulated online and made everyone gag:


Those are not seeds. Allegedly. But what are they? Earth’s Best, the company behind these baby foods, claims that they extensively researched the claims of the mom who posted the alleged maggot video on Facebook. In a statement, they explained the process of elimination trying to figure out what was in the picture.

- We went to the store where the mom who posted the video on Facebook said she purchased the product. We bought a variety of samples of Earth’s Best Organic® Butternut Squash Pear Baby Food Puree in a pouch that was on the store shelves, including two from the same production date. Our testing did not show any contaminants or any signs of potential contamination and the product met our stringent quality standards.

- In accordance with our manufacturing practices, we keep samples from each production run. We tested product from this production run, including a sample which had been produced less than twelve minutes after the pouch bought by the mom who posted the video. We did not find a single contaminant or any signs of potential contamination, and the product met our stringent quality standards.

- We reached out to the mom who posted the video to arrange for us to inspect and test the pouch she had purchased. She initially agreed to allow us to retrieve the product, and we quickly arranged to pick up the product, but she changed her mind. Therefore, we have not been able to determine if there was some damage to the product after it left our control that could have compromised the product’s integrity.

- We even consulted with a well-respected entomologist about the possibility of insects or larvae being able to exist in the product. The scientist confirmed what we had already known. Current Good Manufacturing Practices, set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and which the company strictly adheres to, provide for high temperature processing of fruits and vegetables during the manufacturing of this product. Living insects would not be able to survive the heat treatment.

For what it’s worth, the original video has disappeared from Facebook, and so have any references to it on the crusading mom’s public profile. Maybe we can all rest easy that massive maggot infestation isn’t the problem with these food pouches, but they’ve still been recalled.

What you want to look for are pouches with a “best by” date between 8/05/14 and 12/08/14, and the letters “AT.” If you have an affected pouch, contact the company at 866-495-3774 or in order to get a voucher for replacement products.

Between this and the recall of Chobani Champions yogurt products, though, can we still trust small food pouches intended for children?

“In general, I love the pouches,” parent Jack wrote to us when he let us know about the recall and the gross maggot video. “But maybe it would be a good idea to make some part of the pouch transparent so you can judge its condition before giving it to a child?” Well, that would be nice.

Product Investigation [Earth's Best Organic]

Earth’s Best Contamination Warning [Snopes]

Plum Organics Voluntarily Recalls a Range of Pouch Products [FDA]

by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

Google Mocks Opacity Of National Security Requests While Feds Try To Hide Court Action From Public

Click image to view full-size

Click image to view full-size

For quite some time, Google and other Internet biggies have argued that they should be able to reveal relatively detailed data to the public about user-information requests from federal law enforcement agencies, and specifically those that fall under that black umbrella of national security. In its latest transparency report, Google uses a visual to show its distaste for this opacity. Meanwhile, the federal government is attempting to argue its case for the lack of transparency behind doors closed so tight that even the others involved in the request won’t be privy to what’s said.

As you can see from the above graphic (courtesy of the official Google blog), in just the first six months of 2013, U.S. government filed nearly 11,000 requests for user information from Google, more than four times that of the country with the second-most requests, India.

The graph at the top left also shows the dramatic increase in the total number of government requests between July 2009 and June 2013. Globally, the total more than doubled, from 12,539 to 25,879. The increase was even sharper in the U.S., where the requests tripled from 3,580 to 10,918 over that four-year period.

But the most intriguing chart in the graph is the one you can’t see — requests made under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Google, like everyone else, is forbidden from publicly breaking out these requests from other federal law enforcement requests. Thus, the public has no idea whether or not FISA queries make up a substantial portion of that 10,918 total.

Writes Google:

“We believe it’s your right to know what kinds of requests and how many each government is making of us and other companies. However, the U.S. Department of Justice contends that U.S. law does not allow us to share information about some national security requests that we might receive. Specifically, the U.S. government argues that we cannot share information about the requests we receive (if any) under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. But you deserve to know.”

To that end, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, and LinkedIn recently asked the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for the ability to provide more specific information to the public about the quantity of these requests.

In a filing from September [PDF], Google told the court that it had contacted the DOJ and FBI on June 11, 2013, asking for permission “to publish certain aggregate numbers about its receipt of national security requests… The [DOJ] and FBI have not classified that information. Nonetheless, the [DOJ] and FBI maintain their position that publication of such aggregate numbers is unlawful.”

Ars Technica reports that the government has responded to this request by asking the FISC for permission to argue its side of the issue ex parte, in camera, meaning that the feds would be speaking only to the judge and that this would all take place in chambers, without the presence of Google and other involved parties.

And so Google fired back on Tuesday, filing a response [PDF] to the government’s ex parte motion, which reads, in part:

Allowing the government to file an ex parte brief in this case will cripple the providers’ ability to reply to the government’s arguments and is likely to result in a disposition of the providers’ First Amendment claims based on information that the providers will never see. The providers do not dispute that in some cases it may be appropriate for this Court to consider ex parte filings. In this case, however, such a course is neither justified nor constitutional. The providers already know the core information that the government seeks to protect in this litigation — the number of FISC orders or [FISA Amendments Act] directives to which they have been subject, if any. At issue here is only the secondary question whether the providers may be told the reasons why the government seeks to keep that information a secret. The government has not argued that sharing those reasons with the providers or their counsel would endanger national security.

We couldn’t agree more with Google’s point on this topic. It’s one thing for the government to argue that these statistics need to be kept secret. It’s another for the government to claim that it can’t reveal its rationale for why this data should be kept from the public.

by Chris Morran via Consumerist

UPS Driver Has Driven 7 Million Miles Without Ever Having An Accident (Knock On Wood)

unwreckedralphups The more you drive, the higher the odds are that you’ll eventually hit something or something will hit you. So one might reasonably expect that having 7 million miles of roadtime racked up would’ve resulted in at least a fender bender or heck, a speeding ticket. Not if you’re Ralph, the UPS driver without a single accident or ticket on his record in 40 years.

Now that you’re done gasping in astonishment, let’s learn more about Ralph, shall we? CBS Chicago got to know the big rig driver who’s traveled far enough to go from the earth to the moon more than 29 times and keeps a bunch of candy in his truck to hand out to whoever might want some.

“Sounds crazy to me,” he says, and it is pretty remarkable. He says it’s just his job to be a safe driver and make sure things get where they’re going.

“This time of year, probably loaded with Christmas presents for kids. You wanna get it there for them, y’know make the Christmas special too,” Ralph explains. “If I had to give one piece of advice to anybody, space. Leave yourself room around everybody else,” said Lendi. “And candy.”

Ralph holds the third safest driving record among all UPS drivers in the U.S. and has about 10 more years before he can beat the current number one driver, who’s gone 50 years without an incident.

Now if only every package UPS delivers could arrive at its destination unscathed, we’d really have something to be excited about.

UPS Driver Has Driven 7 Million Miles Without A Single Crash, Ticket [CBS Chicago]

by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Legally Blind Man And Service Dog Kicked Off Plane Before Takeoff

guide_dogIt’s bad enough being stuck on an indefinitely-delayed plane when you’re a human who can play with an iPad or enjoy a book or something, but imagine being in that situation as a dog. Even the best-trained service dog must get tired of being crammed under a seat. When one guide dog became restless while a US Airways Express flight waited to take off, he and his owner were kicked off the flight.

From there, it became a battle of wills between the passenger and a flight attendant. While the dog insisted on curling up behind its owner’s legs, the flight attendant insisted that the dog needed to stay under the seat in front.

According to the airline’s safety rules, that’s where service dogs have to go. Other passengers sided with the blind passenger, though, and eventually the captain did turn the plane around and kick many passengers off due to the “unrest.” The airline describes the passenger’s behavior as “belligerent,” but fellow passengers disagree.

The original flight was eventually canceled. Some passengers, including the man with the service dog, took a 3.5-hour bus trip instead of flying. Others took a different flight.

“[The other passengers] could have stayed on the plane, but they chose not to. I’m so humbled,” the dog’s owner told WPVI news.

by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

Impact Of US Airways/American Airlines Merger Will Depend On Who Gets Leftovers From Wedding

Airlines big and small will be fighting over who gets to bid on US Airways and American Airlines gates and takeoff/landing slots at Reagan National and other airports (afagen)

Airlines big and small will be fighting over who gets to bid on US Airways and American Airlines gates and takeoff/landing slots at Reagan National and other airports (afagen)

The path for US Airways and American Airlines to merge their businesses has been cleared and several smaller airlines like JetBlue and Spirit will benefit from the sale of the merged carriers’ excess takeoff and landing slots at airports around the country. But will that be enough to balance out the fact that we are now down to a handful of major national airlines?

The CEO of tells Reuters that it’s inevitable that this further consolidation of the airline industry will result in higher ticket prices.

“In the past decade, we’ve seen the industry transformed from one that boasted eight large airlines to a mere four. With the latest merger, it drops to three,” he explains (though we’d argue there will be four: United, Delta, US Airways/American, and Southwest). “It is likely we’ll be sitting around in 2020 saying, ‘I wish we still had eight carriers.’”

Regardless of whether you count three or four remaining majors, the fact is that there will be fewer of them when the merger is complete. This means less competition when it comes to setting the bar for airfares.

“In all the trenches there is one less competitor. Therefore, the remaining firms have more pricing power,” explains George Hoffer, a transportation economist at the University of Richmond, to Reuters.

Others contend that the expected exclusion of the other majors from bidding on the divested takeoff and landing slots — including 104 slots at Reagan National outside of D.C., and 34 slots at LaGuardia International in NYC — will help in the long run to eventually turn mid-size players into genuine competitors.

“The leg up that the government has given some of the low cost carriers, I think, is going to have a very positive impact on the industry,” says Herbert Hovenkamp, who teaches antitrust law at the University of Iowa College of Law.

“These are significant concessions that could provide a real shot in the arm to low cost carrier airlines. That competition could help lower prices for consumers in those markets,” explains William J. McGee, travel and aviation consultant for Consumers Union. “But we’re still very concerned about a marketplace dominated by larger airlines that are essentially ‘too big too fail.’ The merger could still leave smaller markets underserved with fewer choices for flights.”

While it’s expected that United and Delta would be barred from bidding, it remains to be seen if Southwest will be included. The airline is often thought of as a low-cost cousin to the majors, but it actually handles as many, if not more, passengers than the blue-chip majors. One could argue that it would be in everyone’s best interest to include Southwest in the bidding, as it would allow the airline to continue competing with United and Delta. That said, Southwest just went through a sizable expansion of its own with the acquisition of AirTran, and perhaps should be excluded.

For its part, Delta has publicly stated that it wants to be involved in the bidding process. Specifically, it wants some of the gates at Dallas Love Field and Reagan National.

Hopefully, the Justice Dept. sticks to its guns and blocks at least United and Delta from being involved in the auction process, as allowing these legacy carriers to gobble up more slots would only maintain the status quo and do nothing to even out the loss of competition from the US Airways and American merger.

by Chris Morran via Consumerist

Great, Now There’s Another Score We’ll Have To Worry About: The PhoneID Score

If you’re the kind of person who is terrified to check your credit score because you just know it’s gotta be awful and bad, stop reading. The PhoneID score is not for the faint of heart, steeped as it is in murky world of data collection. But what exactly is it, and should we all be scared or herald it as a new way to protect your reputation with companies whose services you use?

Forbes lifts the veil on a company called Telesign that’s pervasive but flies mostly under the radar to the general public. If you’ve ever used two-factor authentication to set up an online account, you might be familiar with its milieu — companies send a specific code to a new user to verify they are who they say they are and allow them access to the account.

Telesign helps companies do that verification and sends those texts for about 300 clients, nine of which are in the top ten largest websites in the U.S., according to Teleisgn’s CEO Steve Jillings. Don’t ask what they are, but just believe him.

Anyway, the company says this helps prevent fake accounts wherever a mobile number is required to have that account, and it’s going to lead to a new service: the PhoneID score, which is a reputation-based score for any number in the world. Not unlike a credit score, Telesign uses these ratings to sort the burner phones from your precious new iPhone.

As Forbes’ Kashmir Hill puts it: “Yes, there’s yet another company out there with an inscrutable system making decisions about you that will effect the kinds of services you’re offered.”

“We each have a unique mobile identity tied to our phone number that is linked to a wealth of information, from where we live to our online activities. This makes the phone number the most efficient and conclusive method to identify fraud online,” said Telesign’s CTO Charles McColgan in the release. “PhoneID Score introduces a new way for companies to quickly verify transactions, block fake accounts, and prevent eCommerce fraud, based simply on a phone number.”

The phone numbers are rated from 0 to 1000 with 0 being the phone number you’ve had forever and used to sign up for lots of credible accounts and 1000 being the Hello Kitty burner phone you toss in the hole with the body/drugs. The score also includes details like who owns the number, what kind of phone it is, how long you’ve had it, which service you use and what companies and apps are attached to it. That all figures into your score.

Much like a credit score, if you’ve never had a phone number before you’ll have a not as good score — a higher one instead of a low credit rating in this case — and Telesign will recommend companies either treat you like a golden child who gets anything you ask for (anything under 200) or the black sheep who can’t be trusted to not set up a fraudulent account (anything over 600). If you land in between it indicates you need to be reviewed more fully.

“A lot of the data comes from Telesign’s proprietary network data,” says Jillings. “We see very interesting traffic patterns in our closed network of clients.”

He adds that the company isn’t directly using client data but instead, accesses the metadata around the numbers. And if he has anything to do with it, in the future any account you sign up for will require a mobile phone number connected to it, which is where Telesign comes in.

Your Phone Number Is Going To Get A Reputation Score []

by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Essential Recipes To Trick Everyone Into Thinking You’re A Thanksgiving Dinner Pro

The pumpkin pie is jiggling like it’s got a life of its own, the turkey is sadly unbrowned and swimming in watery, unappetizing gravy and the mashed potatoes taste like glue. No one wants that scenario, which is why we’re all lucky there are experts out there to boil Thanksgiving down to the basics and tell the rest of us what to do. Thanks to them, we can all pull off an impressive dinner. Or at least give it the old college try. Take it away, experts! []

by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Starbucks Testing Two New Seasonal Coffee-Flavored Sugar Bombs

Not satisfied with the current assortment of holiday beverages at your local Starbucks? You’re in luck, maybe. The chain is testing two new flavors of their traditional seasonal sugar bombs in different markets. Indianapolis, Wichita, and Baltimore get to try a Chestnut Praline Latte, and in Orlando and Tampa, Florida, they’re testing a Cherries Jubilee Mocha. If people like ‘em, they might appear on menus nationwide next winter. [Starbucks Melody]

by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

‘Gravity’ Spoof Accurately Recreates The Terror Of Being Separated In IKEA

Sure, the Clooney-in-space movie Gravity presents a terrifying vision of what it may be like to be sent hurtling through the vast emptiness of space, but honestly how many of us are pushing through the mesosphere in our lives? A more relatable terror of drifting without direction can be found in the cluttered maze that is your local IKEA.

Anyone who has ever gotten separated from a shopping companion at IKEA will appreciate the above spoof of Gravity, which transplants the action from space to the byzantine insides of the world’s largest home furnishings retailer.

While we can certainly relate to that feeling of looking away for one moment, only to realize that a loved one has been carried off down the river of shoppers — or worse, popped through one of those fast-travel portholes between departments — we did take one huge issue with this film: We’ve never, ever been able to get anything resembling decent wireless reception inside of an IKEA.

We’ll just save that for the IMDB goofs section when this film is inevitably remade as a Lifetime movie starring Bruce Boxleitner and Kate Capshaw.

Note, while the movie is safe for work, some people have pointed out that someone overhearing the screaming in parts of the video might mistake it for something that is decidedly NSFW. So… headphones on is always a safe bet.

[via Sploid]

by Chris Morran via Consumerist

Louisiana Residents Who Milked SNAP Outage May Lose Food Benefits

louisiana-ebt-300x213Xerox and Walmart pointed fingers of blame at each other in the immediate aftermath of a public benefits card failure last month. Some shoppers saw that their cards showed no balance or limit and took the opportunity to strip store shelves. The administration of Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal knows where the blame really belongs, though: with the shoppers.

After all, an item with no price tag isn’t “free,” and a SNAP card outage doesn’t mean that you have unlimited money. While Walmart declined to prosecute shoppers who tried to buy carts filled with merchandise that cost far more than the real balances on their cards, the state of Louisiana will not be so gracious. They’re pursuing sanctions against people who tried to overspend.

The punishment for people who misuse SNAP cards is losing access to the program for as long as two years.

Also, we want to point out that EBT/SNAP cards are called “Louisiana Purchase” in that state, which is either hilarious or terrible.

..abandoning whole carts of food when the system came back online and the shopping spree was over.

Jindal moves to strip food stamps from abusers [The Advocate]

Jindal administration will pursue people who misused food stamps

by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

FCC Android App Lets You Test Wireless Broadband Speeds

fcc2 In an effort to include more wireless data in its periodic reports on the state of broadband in America, the Federal Communications Commission has released an Android app that lets consumers test the speed and quality of their wireless provider (and of course shares that data with the FCC).

FCC Speed Test is currently available via the Google Play app store. Once installed, users can choose to run a test or just have the app occasionally run one in the background.

The app tests four different aspects related to wireless broadband — download speed, upload speed, latency, and packet loss. If a user chooses to run a test on her own, she can pick and choose which of these categories to include. The Commission says it prefers data from random background testing as manually initiated tests “can lead to biased results when performed only at specific times or places, and may provide a less accurate picture of overall broadband performance.”

By default, the tests will eat up a maximum of 100MB/month of data usage, but this number can be changed in the settings to whatever the user wants it to be.

Given the recent revelations about various federal agencies nosing into supposedly private data, there are obvious privacy concerns for some people about installing an app that provides information to the FCC.

According to the Commission, in addition to the speed and quality test results, the app records four other types of information:

1. Location — this includes the location and ID of the cell tower through which your phone connected for the test. It also includes the GPS location for your device.

2. Time of data collection — pretty self-explanatory, this involves recording the start and end times of the test.

3. Handset type and operating system version — what type of device you’re using and what OS you’re running.

4. Cellular performance and characteristics — including your service provider, the strength of the radio signal, and what type of connection (3G or 4G) service you have.

The FCC claims that the data gathered by the test is entirely anonymous and that any reports made public will only consist of aggregated, anonymous data. You can check out the entire privacy policy here.

by Chris Morran via Consumerist

Costco, BJ’s Would Rather Have Their Employees Spend Thanksgiving At Home

This year, everyone from Kmart to Macy’s to Staples will be celebrating the time-honored tradition of ruining Thanksgiving by throwing open their doors early to shoppers eager to flee the company of their families in favor of door-buster deals on junk the stores are desperate to get rid of. But some retailers simply refuse to get into the spirit of Black Thursday and won’t open until — get this — the day after Thanksgiving.

Two of the bigger grinches are Costco and BJ’s. Why aren’t these warehouse stores joining in all the holiday fun of luring shoppers and employees away from their turkey dinners? Apparently, they think their workers might want the day off.

“Our employees work especially hard during the holiday season, and we simply believe that they deserve the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with their families,” a Costco VP explains to Huffington Post. “Nothing more complicated than that.”

That sentiment was echoed by Laura Sen, the CEO of BJ’s, who told HuffPo, “Maybe call me old-fashioned, but I feel that it’s an easy decision to make [to stay closed on Thanksgiving].”

by Chris Morran via Consumerist

Let’s Not Freak Out, But A New Bird Flu Has Jumped To Humans For The First Time

What we didn’t want to happen has happened — a strain of bird flu that scientists were pretty sure couldn’t infect people has gone and shown up in a human for the first time. This doesn’t necessarily mean a rush on face masks and antiseptic wipes, however, just that scientists have some work to do creating vaccines to protect everyone.

The one person who reportedly contracted the bird flu lives is a Taiwanese woman who works in a deli and had no known connection to birds, so it’s unclear how exactly she was infected, reports the Associated Press. None of her close family or friends were infected however, a positive sign.

She went to the hospital with a lung infection in May and was treated with Tamiflu and antibiotics before she was released. Later one of her throat swabs was sent to the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control, where it was identified as H6N1 bird flu. That strain is common in chickens on the island of Taiwan.

The good news is that two pharmaceuticals both reported encouraging results from tests they did on humans for a vaccine that could perhaps be used against a different type of bird flu that had been spreading in China since last spring.

H5N1 bird flu is so far perhaps the worst bird flu strain to hit humans, as it’s killed more than 600 people so far. Others like H7N9 are also somewhat worrisome but they haven’t mutated to where they could spread to people.

“The question again is what would it take for these viruses to evolve into a pandemic strain?” wrote Marion Koopmans, a virologist at the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands, in a commentary accompanying the new report about this new strain.

The problem is that scientists don’t have any clues that new bird flus will be a worry until a human gets it. Birds don’t always gets as sick or die like humans do, which means studying them won’t always indicate what it’ll do to humans. Koopmans wants scientists to be on the prowl now, to prepare against which viruses could turn into a pandemic.

“We can surely do better than to have human beings as sentinels,” she wrote.

Bird flu strain infects human for 1st time [Associated Press]

by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Walmart’s Nightmare Before Christmas: Cereal Edition

christmas_halloween_crunchIn practical terms, there isn’t much of a difference between one sugar-coated breakfast grain product and another. There’s even less of a difference between Cap’n Crunch products for different holidays. Somehow, though, we still find this combined cereal display spotted at Walmart just as amusing as an honest-to-Santa Halloween tree.

Tipster J. works at Walmart, but not at the Walmart where this picture was taken. J. just had to know: where did this idea come from? Why stack up holiday cereals from different holidays in the aisle?

“I asked an associate in that department,” J. explains. “He said that the Christmas and Halloween are grouped together in the computer, so he was told to put them together. No idea about the Count Chocula though.”

I’m not sure that explanation helps at all.

by Laura Northrup via Consumerist