28 herramientas gratuitas para Instagram #infografia #infographic #socialmedia

Hola: Una infografía con 28 herramientas gratuitas para Instagram. Vía Un saludo

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Cómo cuidar a tus clientes con Redes Sociales #infografia #infographic #marketing #socialmedia

Hola: Una infografía sobre cómo cuidar a tus clientes con Redes Sociales. Vía Un saludo

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Radiografía de las gafas de Google #infografia #infographic

Hola: Una infografía con una Radiografía de las gafas de Google. Vía Un saludo

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Gadgets para regalar en San Valentin #infografia #infographic #tech

Hola: Una infografía sobre Gadgets para regalar en San Valentin. Un saludo Click image to see a larger versionGifts To Impress Your Techie Crush Infographic via Bluehost

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Jansport Still Wowing Customers, Fixing Broken Backpacks

Over a year ago, we shared with you a tale of consumer joy from a Jansport backpack owner who sent his bag to the company in a pizza box and got his worn-out backpack replaced with an even nicer one. They’re not all about swapping old backpacks for new ones over in Jansportland, though. Sometimes, all you need is a replacement zipper.

Reader Rishi was surprised to learn of the company’s lifetime warranty, and even more surprised when his bag came back to him in what seemed like no time at all. He was a longtime Jansport customer, and checked the company’s site to find out whether they offered warranty repairs. He copied us on his e-mail of effusive praise to Jansport.

“I was ready to buy a new bag when I thought to check your website about possible warranty service. I was surprised to see your lifetime warranty policy so I decided to fill out the form and mail my bag in,” he wrote. Surely no company really means a lifetime warranty today, though. Do they?

Here’s the timeline of Rishi’s bag’s travels:

January 16: Mailed backpack.

January 18: Backpack is scheduled to arrive at the repair facility.

January 20: Federal holiday. No mail.

January 21: Jansport lets Rishi know that the bag has arrived in their facility for repair.

Sounds reasonable. Only when Rishi got home from work on the 21st, the bag was sitting at the door, freshly re-zippered and ready for use. “I can only guess that you guys fixed it and shipped it back on the same day you received it,” he wrote to Jansport. “And for that, a very sincere thank you!”

by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

Los escándalos de FaceBook #infografia #infographic #socialmedia

Hola: Una infografía sobre los escándalos de FaceBook. Un saludo

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Impacto del smartphone en la empresa española #infografia #infographic #internet

Hola: Una infografía sobre el Impacto del smartphone en la empresa española. Vía Un saludo

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Cómo fueron los 10 primeros años de FaceBook #infografia #infographic #socialmedia

Hola: Una infografía sobre cómo fueron los 10 primeros años de FaceBook. Vía Un saludo

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Credentials Used For Target Hack Reportedly Stolen From HVAC Vendor

Okay, so the hackers didn't actually go through the ventilation system, but tell us this isn't the first thing you thought of.

Okay, so the hackers didn’t actually go through the ventilation system, but tell us this isn’t the first thing you thought of.

When it was first revealed that the hackers who compromised Target’s in-store payment processing system had used stolen vendor credentials to breach the retailer’s network, many probably assumed that the vendor was some sort of IT or security consultant. But a new report from cybersecurity expert and journalist Brian Krebs says it appears that the entry point into the system was through a refrigeration, heating and cooling company in Pennsylvania.

So in a way, it’s just like all those action movie and video game cliches where people bypass complicated alarm systems through ridiculously large ventilation ducts…

Anyway, Krebs’s sources say that the attackers first slimed their way into Target’s system on Nov. 15 using network credentials stolen from the Mechanicsburg, PA, HVAC contractor that had been hired to work on numerous Target stores.

The president of the company confirmed to Krebs that his business had recently been visited by the Secret Service, which is in the process of investigating the massive breach, but couldn’t give any further details as he was not there at the time.

So how and why would an HVAC vendor have unfettered access to Target’s network?

The retailer isn’t saying, but Krebs has a theory. A source at another large retailer explains that many retail chains try to save on electric and gas bills by routinely monitoring stores’ energy consumption and temperatures. Thus, any outside vendor involved in this monitoring would need remote access, not just for the purpose of checking the data, but also for patching and updating the monitoring software.

Once the hackers were into the system, they tested their malware by uploading it to a handful of cash registers between Nov. 15 and Thanksgiving. Apparently happy with their results, they then unleashed the malware on the majority of the payment system in a matter of two days.

For more details on the hack, including info on how the attackers collected and stored stolen data on hijacked computers at unwitting businesses, check out the full story on

by Chris Morran via Consumerist

Redes Sociales: 2013 frente a 2010 #infografia #infographic #socialmedia

Hola: Una infografía sobre Redes Sociales: 2013 frente a 2010. Un saludo

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10 frases célebres sobre economía #infografia #infographic #citas #quotes

Hola: Una infografía con 10 frases célebres sobre economía. Vía Un saludo

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Potential Burglar Driven From Store By Robotic Singing Bass

When you see a Big Mouth Billy Bass mounted on the wall, running away isn’t a bad idea. We never would have thought of using one as a theft-deterrent system, but police say that a burglar ran out of a store when he or she activated the singing fish by walking past it. Naturally, the store was a bait shop.

The electronic fish can be set to burst into song whenever someone walks past, if you are a reprehensible person. At least it’s appropriate at a store that sells fishing supplies, and the owner had set up the fish to activate whenever someone walked in the door. Including when a potential burglar broke in.

“[W]hen I tried to close the door and it wouldn’t close at all,” the owner told TV station KTTC. “I just knew that Billy Bass had done his job, and let somebody know that [the store] wasn’t just empty or somethin’.”

The burglar took off without stealing anything. Well done, Billy! This may be the first documented case of one of these things being useful for any purpose.

In case you haven’t had the privilege of encountering one of these in the last few decades, here’s a video of a Billy in action:

Singing Fish Spooks Burglar [KTTC]

by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

What Can A Regulator With A Sense Of Ethics Do After Leaving The Feds? Try Not To Become A Lobbyist.

After many years building your career, you’ve reached such a level of good reputation and success that you’ve been tapped to lead a major federal regulatory agency for a few years. Wow! That’s real power. Great job! But your term ends, or the administration changes, and your time in charge of the agency is done. You feel strongly that you’ve got another decade or two in you before retirement, though. So what’s your next move?

Well, that all depends on the fraught question of whether or not you feel particularly beholden to ethics.

ProPublica reported today on the post-regulatory careers of a few former federal officials. The law doesn’t necessarily have high standards for its former servants, but some regulators still try to have standards for themselves.

ProPublica spoke with Sheila Bair, who was head of the FDIC under two presidents. Bair recently accepted a director position with a Spanish megabank, although she had in the past been critical of the ties between regulators and those they regulate.

Bair’s solution to the dilemma was to stay out of the American banking scene, she told ProPublica, although they asked. She declined the positions: “I wanted to stay away from the U.S. because of the revolving-door concerns,” she said.

Mary L. Schapiro, former chair of the SEC, faced the same problem. Schapiro determined to avoid financial lobbying organizations entirely when she moved on in her career, but after just nine months as managing director of a financial services consulting firm realized that avoiding lobbying might be harder than it had seemed:

As for Ms. Schapiro, she had set up much stricter personal rules for herself than the Obama administration has, which are in fact stricter than the rules for civil servants. The former S.E.C. chief decided that she would never lobby regulators on behalf of any clients.

“We all went through hell together for four years, seven days a week,” she told me, referring to the financial crisis and the herculean rule-making that followed. “I never wanted to go back to the team that I led through all of that to ask them for anything.”

Ms. Schapiro didn’t find that her job at Promontory fit her well. Technically, the firm doesn’t lobby, according to the Washington rules of what constitutes lobbying. But just as banking has its shadow banking, lobbying has its shadow lobbying.

On the one hand, it makes perfect sense that federal regulatory agencies would hire successful experts in their field. If you’re looking for someone to have oversight in a critical industry, and to be the head of an enormous bureaucracy, you’d want a seasoned executive who knows the players, has connections, and truly understands the ins and outs of the industry she or he regulates. It would be unrealistic and draconian to forbid anyone who holds a high-ranking regulatory position from ever working again in their field.

On the other hand, the revolving door between regulators and businesses creates some rather significant conflicts of interest as powerful types move fluidly back and forth between the two worlds. And when things look shady, they get very shady very quickly.

Just in the past few years, for example, we’ve had the FCC commissioner who approved the Comcast/NBC deal and then took off to work for Comcast, who had to issue a public defense of her move. Or, also in telecom, there’s the former FCC chairman who now heads the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, the cable industry’s major lobbying group.

Should former regulators be telling businesses how to circumvent or undermine the very regulations they helped create, or were tasked with enforcing? No. But, as ProPublica points out, even keeping every single former fed out of private business wouldn’t stop that from happening. Huge industries–finance, cable, banking–have huge pockets. As long as the law permits them, lobbyists will keep on lobbying… even without their former adversaries at their helms.

Maintaining Ethics in the Move From Regulator to Regulated [ProPublica]

by Kate Cox via Consumerist

Super Bowl 2014 en Redes Sociales #infografia #infographic #socialmedia

Hola: Una infografía sobre la Super Bowl 2014 en Redes Sociales. Vía Un saludo

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1 de cada 6 personas del Mundo tiene FaceBook #infografia #infographic #socialmedia

Hola: Una infografía que dice que 1 de cada 6 personas del Mundo tiene FaceBook. Un saludo

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Aston Martin Recalling 17,590 Cars Because You Didn’t Pay $240K For A Luxury Paper Weight

astonmartinlogo There might not be many of you out there reading in Consumerist land who can afford/have the desire to buy an Aston Martin — after all, the luxury vehicles cost anywhere between $117,000 to $240,000, depending on the model. But if you’re one of the 5,001 owners in America of certain models, you probably want it to be able to accelerate.

The carmaker is recalling 17,590 cars worldwide, with about 5,000 of those in the U.S., saying the cars’ accelerator pedal could break off, reports Reuters. That adds up to about 75% of the cars the company has built since 2007.

Aston Martin says the defect is the fault of an outside supplier in China producing the pedals using a counterfeit plastic material other than the one the company wanted it to use, and had already recalled a number of cars for the same reason before discovering there were more pedals made with it. That part will now be made in Britain.

And as anyone who knows how to drive a car is aware, a broken gas pedal means your car isn’t going anywhere. Not faster, not maintaining speed, not out of the driveway. It could also be dangerous if you’re in the middle of driving.

“If the accelerator pedal arm breaks, the engine will return to idle and the driver will be unable to maintain or increase engine speed, increasing the risk of a crash,” the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says in its recall report.

A spokeswoman for Aston Martin says there have been no reports of accidents or injuries related to the issue thus far, however.

The recall involves most Aston Martin models aside from the Vanquish, the Cygnet and some other specialty cars, the company said. All cars were produced between 2007 and the end of 2013.

Here’s the NHTSA’s list of the models:


Owners may contact Aston Martin customer service by calling 1-888-923-9988 and reference the recall number RA-03-0017

Aston Martin recalls 17,590 cars due to counterfeit material [Reuters]

by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Ask Tax Dad: Invasion Of The Dependent Relatives

TAXDADSEZHistorically, our staff Certified Tax Cat has handled readers’ questions about taxes, but he took feline early retirement and hung up his oversized eyeglasses. Filling in for him is Laura’s dad, a retired accountant and real live independent tax preparer. Exclusively on Consumerist, Tax Dad answers your questions.

This week, two readers ask, “Can I claim this relative taking up space in my home as a dependent?”

I have a question regarding claiming dependents.

Last year our household suddenly gained two new members. My barely employed son and my 87 year old father-in-law both moved in last June. Neither are paying rent and we are covering well over half of their expenses. Can either or both be claimed as dependents?

Thank you,

Full House

Dear Full: Sounds as if you are indeed holding a poker hand. You do not share with us your son’s age, or how much income either guest may have from earnings, social security, pensions, investments, etc. Possibly both of them could be claimed as qualifying relatives, but you would have to do the IRS support test to determine how much support you and they provide.

Basically, you would list your relative’s expenses as well as the entire household’s expenses, and compare this to what each of them provides. You must provide over half of their support. The IRS has an official form for this, of course. It’s called Worksheet 3-1.

Amy writes:

My daughter is 19 (not a full time student) this year and she only earned $1,700. I know I can put her on my taxes as a deduction because she earned under $3,000 and I provided over half of her support but do I add her income to ours? Does she have to file if I claim her or not? Would it be better for her to file on her own and me not claim her? Thanks for any advice!

Hi Amy: It would appear that your daughter would not qualify as your dependent child, as she is over 19 and not a student. As you point out, she would qualify as a dependent relative if she lives with you and you provide over half her support. You could claim an exemption for her on your tax return, based on what you have told us.

You would not claim her income as your own. Your daughter would not be required to file a tax return, unless she had federal and/or state taxes withheld from her $1700, and wished to have those refunded. She would not claim herself as an exemption, as you are claiming her.

Disclaimer: The nature of free advice is that you often pretty much get what you pay for. Questions answered in the “Ask Tax Dad” column should not serve as a substitute for consulting a tax preparer, accountant, tax attorney, or certified tax cat of your very own. Tax Dad regrets that he cannot offer advice privately over e-mail.

Have a question for Tax Dad about your federal or state tax returns? Send it to us at with “ASK TAX DAD” in the subject line. We’ll run the answers as soon as we can get him to stop Photoshopping pictures of wild grouse.

by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

Pasado – presente y futuro del diseño web #infografia #infographic #design

Hola: Una infografía sobre pasado – presente y futuro del diseño web. Un saludo Click image to see a larger versionPast, Present, and Future of Web Design Infographic via Bluehost

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7 claves de una Call to Action (CTA) efectivo #infografia #infographic #marketing

Hola: Una infografía con 7 claves de una Call to Action (CTA) efectivo. Vía Un saludo

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Cómo usan los niños las Redes Sociales #infografia #infographic #socialmedia

Hola: Una infografía sobre Cómo usan los niños las Redes Sociales. Un saludo Infographic by FashionPlaytes

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Tecnología wearable y salud #infografia #infographic #health

Hola: Una infografía sobre Tecnología wearable y salud. Un saludo Please include attribution to with this graphic.

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El móvil es más importante que el sexo #infografia #infographic

Hola: Una infografía que dice que el móvil es más importante que el sexo. Un saludo You will find more statistics at Statista

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United Airlines Realizes It’s 2014, Ditches Styrofoam Coffee Cups

United's new cup.

United’s new cup.

First of all yes, dear readers, Styrofoam is a trademarked name for insulation and what we really mean when we use the lowercase word is “extruded polystyrene.” Moving on: Joining the rest of the 21st century in an aim to “go green,” United Airlines says it will stop using styrofoam coffee cups in its lounges and on flights.

Replacing the styrofoam cups will be eco-friendly, recyclable cups made from 50% recycled materials, the airline said in its announcement, starting in airport lounges this month and on flights by mid-March.

The cups are special in that they’re already insulated, eliminating the need for a sleeve.

“At United, we are constantly working to improve the sustainability of our products and reduce our waste at the same time,” said Angela Foster-Rice, United’s managing director of global environmental affairs and sustainability. “This new cup is not only aligned with our overall Eco-Skies SM commitment to the environment, it is another way our customers can feel good about flying with us.”

There are plenty of others still riding the styrofoam train, of course. After all, McDonald’s announced just last September that it’d be making the switch to paper cups for its hot beverages.

by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Walgreens Wants Everyone To Know It’s Continuing To Sell Cigarettes

Earlier today, CVS surprised an awful lot of people by saying it would give up $2 billion a year in cigarette sales because it’s “the right thing for us to do for our customers and our company to help people on their path to better health.” Meanwhile, Walgreens, the nation’s largest drugstore chain, apparently wants the world to know that it will keep on selling tobacco.

We had expected Walgreens (or Walgreen Company, if you’re into proper corporate names) to not say anything about this topic and just let CVS have its moment in the spotlight, but we were wrong.

This afternoon, a rep for an outside PR firm (you can tell because she repeatedly refers to the company as “Walgreen’s”) wrote to Consumerist with a statement attributable to a Walgreens spokesperson.

Reads the statement, complete with inexplicable and unexplained interior quotation marks:

“The company has been evaluating its tobacco line for ‘some time,’ and said it ‘will continue to evaluate the choice of products our customers want, while also helping to educate them and providing smoking cessation products and alternatives that help reduce the demand for tobacco products.”

From what we can tell, the rep is actually trying to shill for some sort of smoking cessation program that Walgreens and mammoth drug company GlaxoSmithKline have put together. Because there is much more money to gained by selling people both the product they are addicted to and a program that may help them quit.

We’ve reached out to Walgreens’ official PR team in the hopes of further explanation, because we’re confused why the retailer would actively want to tell the world it has given some thought to — but has ultimately decided against — getting rid of a product that is known to cause cancer and numerous other ailments.

by Chris Morran via Consumerist

Holy Crud, Comcast Does Something Nice Without Being Shamed Into It!

While I’ve been lucky that today’s ice storm in the Mid-Atlantic area has not (yet) taken out my power, many thousands of people around Philadelphia have no electricity going to their homes right now. And the wireless devices they’ve been using to stay updated on the outages (and share photos of downed power lines on Facebook) are quickly running out of battery power. This is the part of the story where Comcast does something nice.

The Times Herald of Montgomery County, PA, reports that numerous Comcast offices in the Philly ‘burbs will be letting area residents come in and recharge battery-powered devices during office hours.

If you’re without power and live in the area, below are the offices that are extending this offer, along with their hours:

• NORRISTOWN: 1000 Sandy Hill Road (Hours: Mon – Fri 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sat – 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sun – Closed)

• POTTSTOWN: 190 Shoemaker Rd (Hours: Mon – Fri 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sat – 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sun – Closed)

• SELLERSVILLE: 114 Ridge Rd (Hours: Mon – Sat – 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sun – Closed)

• UPPER DARBY: 503 South Cedar Lane (Hours: Mon – Fri 9:30a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sat – 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sun – Closed)

• WILLOW GROVE: 29 York Rd (Hours: Mon – Fri 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sat – 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sun – Closed)

• ASTON: 110 Springbrooke Blvd (Hours: Mon – Fri 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sat – 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sun – Closed)

• BENSALEM: 1750 Byberry Rd (Hours: Mon – Sat – 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sun – Closed)

• DOWNINGTOWN: 1004 Cornerstone Boulevard (Hours: Mon – Fri 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sat – 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sun – Noon to 5 p.m.)

• LANGHORNE: 518 Oxford Valley Rd (Hours: Monday-Sunday: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.)

Thanks to Diana P. for the tip!

by Chris Morran via Consumerist

How Airlines Make Money: Charge Travelers $25 To Check A Bag, Only Spend $2 To Transport It

Airline fees aren’t new to travelers; in fact, it’s almost second nature to shell out $25 to check a bag. Over the years airlines have tried justified their decision to charge consumers fees for things like checked baggage or reservation changes. But two new reports are shedding light on just how much airlines are making by employing those fees.

When airlines began charging checked baggage fees in 2008 it drew the ire of travelers. Airlines justified the new fee by telling consumers the money was being used to pay for the jet fuel used to transport the bag. Well, that’s no longer the case, apparently.

No, it doesn’t cost $25 in jet fuel to transport your checked bag. It only costs about $2, a new analysis by the Detroit Free Press shows.

Airlines are notoriously tight-lipped on how much it costs to fly passengers, but the Free Press was able to extrapolate the cost from an American Airlines press release on cost savings when pilots traded in 35-pound flight manuals for sleek, 1.35-pound iPads.

So airlines are charging roughly 12 times that cost for one bag. That seems outrageous, right?

In principle it is, but airline officials are saying that’s not all the fee is used for. No, now, they serve as a revenue stream for the once struggling airlines.

While American Airlines and industry trade Airlines for America officials don’t dispute the Free Press finding, they say there are significantly more costs involved in transporting baggage like salaries and transport tracking systems.

However, not all airlines are the same. Southwest touts one free checked bag (but for how much longer), while Spirit Airlines charges travelers for carry-ons.

Still, those fees add up, boy do they add up.

In fact, the U.S. Department of Treasury reports that U.S. airlines made $2.5 billion in baggage fees in the first three quarters of 2013. In 2012, airlines brought in $3.5 billion in bag fees.

Checked baggage fees aren’t the only thing airlines are using to increase revenue. In the same three quarters of last year, airlines reported a revenue of $2.1 billion for reservation change-fees, just under the 2012 revenue of $2.7 billion.

A USA Today survey of a dozen airlines showed some airlines are levying fees of $400 or more for things like reservation changes, booking by phone, and overweight baggage fees.

Change-fees for airlines vary from nothing to more than $200, USA Today reports. Last year, American hiked their change fee by $50.

International travel is another monster entirely. Delta Air Lines charges $400 to change a ticket on some international travel, while American Airlines charges $450 for an overweight checked bag (weighing 71 to 100 pounds) for some international flights.

Fees might be hurting our wallets, but they are enabling airlines to provide consumers the ultimate choice and control over what they purchase, Airlines for America say.

The Michigan Traveler: True cost of transporting a $25 checked bag? About $2 [Detroit Free Press]

Airline fees reach $400+ [USA Today]

by Ashlee Kieler via Consumerist

Jos. A. Bank Attempts To Fend Off Men’s Wearhouse Get Weirder

061709-005-eddiebauerEveryone was getting bored with the constant drama in the Men’s Wearhouse/Jos. A. Bank saga, and we ran out of “gonna like the way you look” jokes weeks ago. That’s why Joey B. decided to mix things up last week and make what seems like a completely random offer to acquire Eddie Bauer.

Why Eddie Bauer? Nobody really knows. Analysts and experts are puzzled, and neither company is talking to the press. The company declared bankruptcy in 2009, and was acquired by private equity firm Golden Gate Partners.

The only possible explanation for the talks, experts speculate, is to make Jos. A. Bank’s prospects look worse and make it a less tempting candidate for acquisition.

Meanwhile, renowned retail expert Jerry Seinfeld weighed in on the merger and acquisition mating dance in an interview with Buzzfeed.

“I want to know how..Jos. A. Bank, could they advertise more? Could they sell less? They advertise, ‘We’ll give you three suits for eight dollars! Just take it! Just take it and get it out of here. It’s crap, nobody wants it.’ Then Men’s Wearhouse says, ‘We want more crap. We don’t have enough of this crap of our own.’”

Jos. A. Bank Defying Suitor Pursues Eddie Bauer Deal [Bloomberg]

by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

Anheuser-Busch InBev Has A Taste For Craft Beer, Gobbles Up Blue Point Brewing Co.

Craft brewers around the country are probably pouring one out in honor of their fallen comrades at Blue Point Brewing Co. Not because the brewery is out of business — nay, the opposite: It’s been slorped up by beer behemoths Anheuser-Busch Inbev.

Apparently your hipster cousin Colby (the one with the questionable knuckle tattoos, obviously) isn’t the only one with a taste for craft brews: AB InBev announced its newest acquisition today, reports the Los Angeles Times, without saying how much it paid for the company.

AB InBev seems intent on stretching its sprawling hold on the beer industry: Last year the maker of Budweiser and Stella Artois gathered up Grupo Modelo in its beery embrace after a long courting period for the merge that finally won the Department of Justice’s approval.

Blue Point started brewing craft beers in 1999 in Patchogue, N.Y. and has done well on the East Coast especially, with its popular Toasted Lager brand. The brewery sold 60,000 barrels last year, half which were Toasted Lager, the company says.

“Together, our talented brewing team and Anheuser-Busch will have the resources to create new and exciting beers and share our portfolio with even more beer lovers,” Mark Burford, one of Blue Point’s co-founders, said in a statement.

When reached for comment, your hipster cousin Colby simply sniffed and turned his head slightly as if he’d just smelled something distasteful. Then he slowly set down his Toasted Lager and left the room to play pinball at some new bar you’ve never heard about.

Anheuser-Busch buys craft brewer Blue Point Brewing Co. [Los Angeles Times]

by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

FTC Settles With Spammer Who Sent Millions Of Deceptive Texts

Junk mail and e-mail spam are annoying enough, but text message spam can be truly aggravating. Not only is it pointless, but also, depending on your phone plan, you may get charged for the privilege of having to delete scummy, scammy links.

Luckily, you’re not the only one who things deceptive text-message spam marketing is a problem: the Federal Trade Commission is right there with you. And the FTC is stopping at least one heavy-duty text message scammer from bombarding the airwaves with his deceptive messages anymore, the agency announced today.

The FTC first began targeting 29 deceptive text-messaging marketers last March. Today they announced a judgement against one of the spammers, Wisconsin man Jason Cruz. The messages Cruz and the other marketers sent were of the “You have been selected for a $1,000 Walmart GiftCard, Enter code ‘FREE’ at [website address] to claim your prize: 161 left!” variety.

Of course, when recipients followed through on the link, they didn’t receive prizes. Instead, they faced layer after layer of requests for personal information–in some cases, like address collection, framed as necessary info for receiving the non-existent free gift cards. That info was then sold off, and message recipients had to jump through still more hoops to have any hope of getting an actual gift card to arrive.

The settlement Cruz and the FTC reached, called a stipulated final judgement (PDF), has two main outcomes. The first is that Cruz isn’t allowed to scam people with spam texts anymore. He is “permanently banned” from sending (or from helping others send) unsolicited text messages. He’s also banned from “deceptively presenting an offer as ‘free,’ and from misleading consumers about the use of their personal information.”

The second outcome of the judgement was a finding against Cruz for $185,041.26, the full amount of money Cruz received from the scam. Due to being completely broke, though, Cruz is only required to pay $10,000 of the total sum.

Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said, “When scammers use unwanted text messages to entice consumers with deceptive offers, that’s a significant problem. Banning a serial spammer like Mr. Cruz from sending unsolicited text messages helps the FTC take a huge cut out of scammers’ efforts to target consumers in this way.”

by Kate Cox via Consumerist

Algunas tendencias educativas para el 2014

via Educación tecnológica

NFL Makes Deal To Simulcast Thursday Night Football Games On CBS

51_frame03a It’s been rumored for months that the NFL was looking to somehow increase the often piddling ratings for the Thursday Night Football games and today the league announced that it will be simulcasting many of next season’s Thursday games on both the NFL Network and CBS.

According to this press release [WARNING: Auto-play video that you can't even stop until after the obnoxious ad plays] “CBS will air eight early-season games that also will be simulcast on NFL Network.”

Even the games that only air on NFL Network will be produced by the team at CBS — including the booth duo of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms — a significant upgrade (in my opinion) to the pairing of Mike Mayock and the guy who had to sit next to Mike Mayock for three hours every Thursday.

There will still be an NFL Network presence in these de facto CBS broadcasts, with the cable channel’s crew of analysts and experts appearing in the pregame, halftime, and postgame shows.

Though the deal is technically only for the 2014 season, the NFL has the option to extend it for another season.

“NFL Network built Thursday into a night for NFL fans,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said, ignoring the fact that even many diehard football fans often forgot that there were games on Thursday night. “Our goal is to bring these games to more fans on broadcast television with unprecedented promotion and visibility.”

This is good news for all the fantasy football players who continually ran into the problem of forgetting to make picks or make starting player changes before the start of a Thursday night game.

We also hope that CBS doesn’t continue using this as the musical lead-in for Thursday Night Football:

by Chris Morran via Consumerist

Study: Flirting With Other Brands Makes You More Devoted To Your Favorite Companies

When you catch your significant other flirting with someone who is distinctly insignificant by way of “Who the heck is that person you’re talking to and why did you feel the need to laugh so coquettishly?” it’s a very bad thing. But when it comes to brand loyalty, one study says the more you flirt with a company aside from your current steady, the closer ties you form with your favorite.

Harvard Business School behavioral scientist Francesca Gino writes at Scientific American about this effect, where a quick bout of infidelity is a good thing for the companies behind your favorite brands.

“When consumers who are in committed brand relationships flirt with other brands, they become even more attached to their primary brand,” she writes. “They are then willing to spend more money to purchase that brand’s products, and more frequently.”

You’d think that it would be bad for companies if you’re having fun with another brand, perhaps admiring it in a way your current brand doesn’t seem to inspire. But Gino says letting consumers have a little fun outside the relationship — noticing the attractive qualities of a competing product or trying it out for a short time — can strengthen your bond with your usual brand.

In one study, for example, participants were shown four favorable features of one soft drink and asked to evaluate them.

“Participants who were loyal to Coca-Cola, and who were asked to rated favorable features of Pepsi, said they intended to consume more of their favorite soft drink in the upcoming week, as compared to loyal Coca-Cola participants who rated the same favorable features of Coca-Cola.”

The same thing happened with Pepsi loyalists regarding Coke, she explains. Merely acknowledging and appreciating the nice things about someone else made the most loyal want to give back to their favorite brand, and soon.

You drink the ones you love, even if you can admit that others might have something to offer. This could be akin to flirting with someone who’s uncommitted — it’s exciting, you get a rush and feel a bit giddy. But then you take that bubbly feeling back home to your committed relationship.

Gino suggests that this could mean all the truckloads of money marketers dump on trying to lure customers away from the competition could be backfiring — in essence, it’s providing that little bit of a flirtatious tingle that’s just enough to make loyal customers stay put.

When Flirting Increases Loyalty [Scientific American]

by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Judge Stops Town From Punishing Drivers Who Use Headlights To Warn Others Of Speed Traps

Flashing your headlights is a well-established means of communicating any number of things to other drivers on the road. It could be a reminder for the other driver to turn on their lights (or turn off their brights). Maybe it’s a call to your traveling partners in another car to pull off at the next exit. It’s also a way for some people to alert other drivers about a police speed trap up ahead. Some towns have outlawed that practice, but a federal judge says that’s going too far.

Earlier this week, a U.S. District Court judge in Missouri issued an order that stops, for now, the town of Ellisville, MO, from ticketing drivers who flash their headlights to tip off others to the presence of a speed trap.

The ruling, believed to be the first federal court ruling related to this matter, comes in a lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of a driver who received a citation from Ellisville police in 2012 for flashing his headlights to warn other cars on the road of a speed trap he’d just passed.

The driver says that when he went to court and attempted to enter a not guilty plea on the charge, which generally includes a $1,000 fine, the judge allegedly “became agitated and asked Plaintiff if he had ever heard of ‘obstruction of justice.’”

Charges were eventually dropped against this particular driver, and while Ellisville police have reportedly been told by the Police Chief to no longer cite headlight-flashing drivers, the ACLU sued the town on behalf of the driver because the ordinance still remains on the books and they felt that such a law violates a driver’s First Amendment right to free expression.

The preliminary injunction issued by the court on Monday stated that the plaintiff would likely prevail in his case against the town if it went to trial. According to the judge, the officer who cited the plaintiff for the alleged offense “did not have reasonable suspicion to believe that Plaintiff had violated any law” and stated that it is not illegal to warn drivers “because a speed trap is ahead.”

There are numerous places around the country that have similar laws against tipping off drivers to the presence of a speed trap, and the ACLU is hoping that Monday’s ruling sends a message to lawmakers and law enforcement everywhere.

“It is legal in Missouri to communicate in this manner,” said ACLU Legal Director Tony Rothert after the ruling, “and detaining, ticketing or arresting someone for the content of their speech is illegal.”

Rothert contends that, First Amendment issues aside, warning people of speed traps ahead results in drivers behaving responsibly, saying that in the plaintiff’s experience, “people really do slow down when you flash your lights at them, and that’s safer for everyone.”

Is flashing headlights to warn of a speed trap protected by the First Amendment? [St. Louis Post-Dispatch via LawBlog]

by Chris Morran via Consumerist

8 Retailers That Have Your Back When You Forget Your Coupon

Retailer coupons can be your ticket to great deals, but what happens when you forget to clip or bring along your coupon? If you know when to ask, sometimes the store will have your back. If not, these stores often have coupon-stuffed flyers at the entrances, or smartphone apps you can use to dial up your own. put together a handy list of stores that might be able to help forgetful shoppers out.

Michaels: There’s probably one of the chain’s ubiquitous 40% off one item coupons stashed next to the cash register. “I’d say 90% of the time they’ll open a drawer under the register and pull out a coupon and scan it,” blogger Kyle says of his wife’s shopping trips to the craft supplies chain.

Old Navy: Asking for a coupon works less consistently, but does work sometimes. If you have a smartphone, you can also check it for in-store deals, which may be on the company’s Facebook page.

Jo-Ann: This craft chain also offers 40-50% off one item coupons weekly. If you forget yours, there may be one on a sale flyer sitting around the store, or just ask. The chain also has a smartphone app that you can use to pull up insta-coupons.

Bed Bath & Beyond: If the cashier doesn’t have a loaner coupon or you don’t find one sitting around the store, you can bring your receipt back to the store with your sweet 20% off deal and get a refund.

Dick’s Sporting Goods: Kyle shares the tale of a shopping trip when he pulled up a coupon on his smartphone, only to have the cashier offer an even better one. Handy! It may have helped that he had some raucous children with him.

Kohl’s: This store can scan e-mailed coupons from your smartphone. Don’t have one? The cashier may have scratch-off coupons, which add the fun of an instant lottery ticket to your shopping trip. Just ask.

JCPenney: Yes, they’ve re-embraced coupons. Look for a flyer when you enter the store, or ask a cashier.

Costco: Readers have told us that if you forget the coupon book that Costco mailed you, cashiers have spares. Ask nicely.

Forgot your Coupon? These Retailers Still Got your Back []

by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

How Not To Have The Worst Hotel Stay Ever – Look For Fake Online Reviews

So, you’re planning a much-needed vacation to a beautiful destination, but you don’t know any of the hotels in the area. You do like most consumers and turn to online review sites like TripAdvisor or Expedia. But are these hotel sites really trustworthy?

Banking your $2,000 vacation fund on hotel reviews of strangers is enought to give just about anyone heart palpitations, but an increasing number of consumers are doing just that, MainStreet reports.

Online review sites are one of the best consumer guideposts for hotels. These are real people just like you, not the paid travel writers of yester-year. What’s there to worrry about? Fake reviews, that’s what.

Basing your hotel decision on glowing reviews seems like a good bet, but experts warn consumers to be wary of overly-complimentary or negative reviews; the ones that occur when an overzealous employee offers to pay for reviews or when a hotel owner tries to scam the system.

It’s common for fake reviews to crop-up online, even with expensive analytics employed to detect them. The good news is that spotting reviews that distort the facts can be pretty simple.

Researchers have found common threads that help to identify fake reviews. Fraudulent reviews are most likely to be posted by hotels that are independent, owned by small owners, are managed by a small management company and have a competitive neighboring hotel.

When scouring through reviews, look for hotels that have a substantial amount of comments.

Additionally, look for themes in those posts. If many commenters mention the same issue, say a loud street, then it’s likely the hotel will boarders a loud street.

And if you’re still skeptical, ask friends on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for personal recommendations.

Can You Trust The Hotel Review Sites? []

by Ashlee Kieler via Consumerist

Everyone Near Scene Of Overturned Milk Tanker Truck Probably Trying Not To Cry

Sometimes the best advice is the hardest to carry out in your real life. Like when someone tells you not to cry over spilled milk? Sounds so simple — when’s the last time such a thing made you cry? Maybe when it’s 6,000 gallons of milk spilled all over a freeway and you’re the guy in charge of trying to clean the whole thing up. Then you still can’t cry, even if you want to.

One might imagine that a big rig loaded with milk crashing off the side of a freeway would be enough to make officials shed a tear, as the California Highway Patrol had to shut down lanes of traffic for hours this morning while they tried to set things to rights again.

According to, the tanker went off the road around 3:30 a.m., spilling much of its milky contents down an embankment and flowing every which way.

Emergency personnel were able to rescue the driver from the wreckage despite the apparent severity of the crash. He was taken to a local hospital and treated for non-life threatening injuries.

But there’s still plenty to shed tears about, if such a thing were allowed — officials are having a tough time pulling the truck off the side of the road, as there could still be enough milk left in the tanker to make it just heavy enough to impede cleanup.

Milk Truck Goes Off Side of Freeway in Eagle Rock; Sigalert Issued []

by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Scammy Restaurant, Dirty Hotel, No Credit Cards Allowed: An Olympics Reporter Shares His Sochi Story

Earlier today, we shared numerous Tweets about the hellish hotel problems experienced by reporters on the ground in Sochi, Russia, as they prepare for the upcoming Winter Olympics. Now a journalist in Sochi shares his Sochi story with Consumerist.

Steve has been in Russia for a few days with a large group of reporters and photographers. He’s asked us not to identify his employer, but let’s just say it’s a household name.

Much like the other reporters who have been sharing unpleasant experiences from Sochi, Steve is having a few hospitality-related issues with the town he’ll call home for the next few weeks.

“On the third night I found empty beers under my bed,” he tells Consumerist about his hotel room. “They are either from before I got there and I didn’t see them or someone partied while I was at work.”

Steve also says that when he went to check out the Olympic hockey arena, he got stuck in an elevator had to pry the door open himself to get out.

He has this important caveat for anyone who might be traveling to Sochi to attend the games: “Nobody takes credit card and some places have just run out of food and drinks and bottled water.”

On the credit card front, Steve says he and his large team went out for their big dinner the other night. They had already pre-paid half of the very expensive restaurant bill in advance and agreed to pay the remaining half in credit card after the meal.

“When we went to pay and leave they said ‘No, nobody pay yet,” he recalls, saying the restaurant demanded that the entire tab be paid for in cash right then and there. “So… it took some time and some arguing before they agreed that, okay yes, we had paid half then they still wanted $5k in cash. They had to drive a credit card machine up from the city so we could pay them.”

Since Steve and most of the team were only vaguely aware of this drama, he lightheartedly says, “It was like a really fun, boozy kidnapping/extortion.”

In spit of all this, Steve says that it could be a lot worse.

“I’m feeling safe for the most part and having a good time,” he writes. “Once the games actually start I’m sure it’ll fly by.”

by Chris Morran via Consumerist

JPMorgan Chase To Pay $614M In Settlement For Defrauding Federal Agencies

JPMorgan Chase & Co. is running up quite the legal tab this year. On Tuesday, that tab grew by $614 million when the company agreed to settle its latest legal woe with the U.S. government.

JPMorgan Chase & Co agreed to pay $614 million to the U.S. government and admitted to defrauding federal agencies, Reuters reports.

As part of the settlement JPMorgan Chase admitted it defrauded federal agencies for over a decade by approving thousands of insured loans that were not eligible for insurance by the Federal Housing Administration and the Department of Veteran Affairs. When the unqualified loans failed both the FHA and VA incurred substantial losses.

The bank is just one of several, including Citigroup Inc and Deutsche Bank AG, that faced similar allegations and reached settlements. Last October, Bank of America Corp was found liable by a jury for fraud over mortgages sold by its Countrywide unit; the Justice Department is seeking $2.1 billion in penalties in that case.

Tuesday’s settlement represents another significant step in JPMorgan Chase & Co’s efforts to put historical mortgage-related issues behind it, bank officials said in a statement.

This isn’t the first settlement for JPMorgan Chase this week. On Monday, the company agreed to pay $1.45 million to settle four-year-old allegations of sexual harassment at a mortgage loan center in Ohio, Reuters reports.

In early January, it was reported the bank was near settling a $2 billion deal relating to Bernie Madoff’s pyramid schemes. In the suit, JPMorgan Chase, Madoff’s bank of choice, should have known something shady was happening with Madoff’s investments and taken action.

Under a civil settlement, which was reached in November, JPMorgan Chase & Co. will pay $13 billion to end government investigations into its marketing and sale of mortgage-backed securities.

In all, the company paid out more than $20 billion to settle several investigations and findings during 2013.

While the company has shelled out billions of dollars to settle cases there has always been the assumption that financial institutions and executive are “too big to jail”, but that could change Attorney General Eric Holder said during an MSNBC interview in January.

“There are no institutions that are too big to indict,” Holder said. “There are no individuals who are in such high level positions that they cannot be indicted, criminally investigated.”

In the interview Holder cited the recent cases against JPMorgan Chase & Co. as an example of how prosecutors can pursue criminal charges if warranted. The investigation into JPMorgan Chase continues.

In the past year, bank regulators have faced criticism for not holding the nation’s banks and their executives accountable for their misdeeds. Instead, most banks settle cases rather than head to court, much like JPMorgan Chase.

Making amends without actually saying sorry might be part of the past for large companies if Securities and Exchange Commission Chairwoman Mary Jo White has anything to do with it.

In an interview with The Los Angeles Times, White said the agency has more power than they were perhaps using – and part of that leverage is getting wrongdoers to admit their wrongdoings.

JPMorgan to pay $614 mlm in U.S. mortgage fraud case [Reuters]

by Ashlee Kieler via Consumerist

Senator Desperately Trying To Get Yogurt To Our Brave, Yogurtless Olympic Athletes

Won't someone consider the poor, yogurtless Olympians?

Won’t someone consider the poor, yogurtless Olympians?

It’s not only the media in Sochi that are finding Russian reality a harsh one ahead of the Winter Olympics. Imagine you’re a world-class athlete, with a lean machine of a body that is finely tuned to the highest degree of athleticism. What that body wants, it gets. Unless it’s Greek yogurt.

Senator Chuck Schumer is desperately trying to make sure that American athletes aren’t denied their constitutional (or not) right to yogurt, calling on the Russian government to pretty please let a shipment of Chobani Greek yogurt to be delivered to Sochi. It’s meant for the mouths of our Olympic athletes as well as NBC Studios employees, reports the Associated Press.

The New York senator said yesterday that there’s a shipment of the stuff that’s being held up at Newark Liberty International Airport because of “unattainable” Russian Customs certifications.

Apparently the U.S. Department of Agriculture has also asked Russia to approve its USDA safety certificate for the yogurt, but according to Schumer, Russia is still refusing to accept the yogurt.

Perhaps it’s because this yogurt is only for U.S. citizens — Chobani is one of the official sponsors of our team, so maybe the thinking here is that if our athletes are denied the substance, our team will shrivel up, waste away and otherwise falter on the field of competition.

Hang in there, you guys. We can get through this.

NY senator seeks release of Sochi yogurt shipment [Associated Press]

by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Sony May Be Getting Out Of The PC Business

recalledsony Sony may be one of the world’s largest electronics companies, but it’s Vaio computers have never grown to be the market leader Sony intended them to be and has recently resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in losses. Thus, for the second time in a year, the company is attempting to find a buyer for Vaio.

Sony introduced Vaio 18 years ago, pushing the brand as a high-end multimedia device for design-minded consumers. While the company was correct in predicting the future direction of personal computing, its high-priced computers were soon undercut by less-expensive machines from new entrants into the market.

But the company muscled on, continuing to keep the Vaio brand alive for nearly two decades. However, as consumers increasingly turn to smartphones and tablets to replace home computers, Sony has been hit hard by the overall drop in PC sales, losing an estimated $300 million last year on the Vaio business.

And so Sony has been attempting to unload its PC brand on a handful of potential buyers. In 2013, a deal to hand off Vaio to Chinese electronics company Lenovo — who previously purchased IBM’s PC business and recently agreed to take Motorola off Google’s hands — never materialized.

The Wall Street Journal reports that is now in talks to sell Vaio to Japan Industrial Partners Inc., a fund that specializes in turnarounds, for somewhere between $400 million and $500 million.

PC sales currently account for around 10% of all Sony’s electronics sales, bringing in nearly $5 billion a year, but at a loss for the company. Perhaps someone else can revamp the Vaio brand and make it profitable.

Sony in Talks to Sell PC Operations []

by Chris Morran via Consumerist

Time Warner Cable Apologizes For Super Bowl Outage With $5 Gift Cards

Soon, Time Warner Cable customers will enter a bold new era of being required to rent a set-top box in order to watch television. That day is not yet here, and some people still plug a coaxial cable right into the back of their standard definition TV sets. In the Los Angeles area, analog customers missed about an hour of this year’s Super Bowl, including the halftime show, and will get $5 for their trouble.

With impeccable timing, it was only the Fox feed that glitched. Time Warner Cable customers, already annoyed with periodic outages and TWC’s regional cable monopoly, took to the Internet to express their rage. It’s not just gift cards: customers will have the choice between a gift card (what kind of gift card is not specified) or a $5 credit on their bill.

The glitch may not have been quite as annoying if Time Warner Cable hadn’t aired several ads bragging about how great Time Warner Cable is shortly after restoring service. Maybe. Imagine hearing the words, “Whatever you are passionate about, Time Warner Cable invents ways for you to enjoy it even better,” if you’re really passionate about the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Or football, we suppose.

Time Warner Cable Issuing Credits for L.A. Customers Affected by Super Bowl Blackout [Hollywood Reporter]

by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

It’s Now Legal In NYC For A Waiter To Give You Water You Haven’t Even Asked For

Think back to the last time you were at a restaurant. Did your server set down a glass of water in front of you? Did he or she ask if you wanted water first? If you were in a New York City restaurant and your server gave you water you didn’t ask for, well, that’s illegal. At least until the repeal of a local regulation goes into effect this month.

Ah, days of yore! Such fun little laws we sometimes forget about that pop up to the top so we can giggle about them before we do away with them forever.

The New York Times points to a subdivision of Section 20-08 of Chapter 20 of Title 15 of the Rules of the City of New York Governing and Restricting the Use and Supply of Water that prohibits serving water in a restaurant unless a patron requests it.

But is anyone actually aware of such an ordinance? Probably not.

“I have a restaurant for 27 years, but I never knew that,” the owner of one Theater District restaurant. “But we always ask, ‘Would you like some good New York water or some mineral water?’”

The co-owner of a Staten Island pizzeria felt the same way. But it sounds like at his joint, no one was in danger of violating the law anyway.

“Oh, really? I never heard of that,” he said. “But we don’t serve it, because we want people to order beverages and wine. Otherwise, they’d just fill up on water.”

There’s got to be at least one legal mind out there, though, and the NYT found that in an owner of another Manhattan restaurant, who said the servers always ask first.

“Otherwise, it’s a waste. We have to pay for the water they use,” he said. “The less we use, the less we have to pay for. And even though New York City has the best water, bottled water is a selling point, and you can make a decent profit.”

Before former mayor Michael Bloomberg left office, his administration took to the law books and started scrapping such regulations, setting this one up for repeal unless there’s a drought emergency. The repeal takes effect later this month.

And of course, puns abound.

“We’re very happy that the administration is taking a glass-is-half-full attitude to reviewing old regulations,” said a spokesman for the New York State Restaurant Association. “It’s good for both the city and the industry to get them off the books.”

For Restaurants, an Arcane Water Rule Is Going Away [New York Times]

by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist