Thailand is losing the war on dissent, thanks to user notifications and HTTPS

Thailand's insane lese majeste laws make it radioactively illegal to criticize the royal family, reflecting a profound insecurity about the legitimacy of the ruling elites there that can only be satisfied through blanket censorship orders whenever one of the royals does something ridiculous, cruel or both (this happens a lot). Read the rest

Real estate bubbles lower the birth-rate

Shelter is a human necessity second only to food on Maslow's hierarchy of needs; but it's also an asset-class that is increasingly relied upon by the world's super-rich for money-laundering, rent-extraction and simple investment -- this creates a dilemma for governments, who are under pressure to ratchet up the cost of a fundamental human necessity in order to enrich a minority of wealthy land- and property-owners. Read the rest

The new Apple campus has a 100,000 sqft gym and no daycare

Construction is near to completion on Apple's $5B campus in Cupertino, and the project has included many odd notes, like the insistence on not having thresholds on the floor of the doorways lest daydreaming engineers trip over them, and some weird ideas about where the bathrooms should go. Read the rest

Big Cable push-polled America on Net Neutrality, still found the majority in favor of it

As Donald Trump's FCC gets set to kill Net Neutrality, lobbyists for the country's telcos and cable operators are tucking in their napkins and picking up their cutlery, getting ready to feast. Read the rest

Apple's control-freakery is making the Internet of Shit shittier

The anonymous individual behind the must-follow Internet of Shit Twitter account now has a column in The Verge, and has devoted 1,500 words to documenting all the ways in which Apple's signature walled-garden approach to technology has created an Apple Home IoT platform that is not only manifestly totally broken, but also can't be fixed until Apple decides to do something about it -- and once you opt for Apple, you can forget about plugging in anything Apple hasn't greenlit, meaning that your choice of smartphone will determine what kind of toaster and lightswitch you're allowed to connect to your smarthome. Read the rest

Choose "Cage-Free" audiobooks

The nice folks at Libro.fm supply audiobooks online and through a network of the country's best indie bookstores; all their books are DRM-free, and they have a new, snappy way of describing them: Cage-Free Audiobooks. Read the rest

How to support a writer's career

Since the earliest days of my novel-writing career, readers have written to me to thank me for my books and to ask how they can best support me and other writers whose work they enjoy. Nearly 15 years later, I have a pretty comprehensive answer for them!

Teacher: Jostens Yearbook is a giant scam that stole from our school for years

Jeromie Whalen is a technology teacher at Northampton High School who recently took over as the school yearbook advisor (one of the many cool projects he's done at his school); when he stepped into the role, he discovered with mounting horror that the school's yearbook contractor, the field-dominating Jostens Yearbook, was "literally a scam." Read the rest

The Marketing Seminar: an online masterclass in marketing from Seth Godin

From the wonderful, refreshingly bullshit-free marketing guy Seth Godin (Seth Godin, a new online course on marketing, called (simply enough), "The Marketing Seminar." Read the rest

Insulin prices spike by 1123%, sending parents to the black market to keep their kids alive

Gabriella Corley is a 9 year old with Type I diabetes who's allergic to the insulin covered by her low-income parents' healthcare; to live, she must take Sanofi's proprietary Apidra brand insulin, which has increased in price by 1,123% since 1996, and which is only covered to 25% by her insurer's Pharmacy Benefit Manager, CVS. Read the rest

"One price to all" has been the default since 1840, but online retail is sneakily killing it off

Since the earliest days of ecommerce, analysts have predicted that retailers would use their estimations of their customers' willingness to pay to invisibly, instantaneously reprice their goods, offering different prices to each customer. Read the rest

Japan secretly funneled hundreds of millions to the NSA, breaking its own laws

The Intercept publishes a previously-unseen set of Snowden docs detailing more than $500,000,000 worth of secret payments by the Japanese government to the NSA, in exchange for access to the NSA's specialized surveillance capabilities, in likely contravention of Japanese privacy law (the secrecy of the program means that the legality was never debated, so no one is sure whether it broke the law). Read the rest

In 1982, Mattel fielded a teen-pregnancy Barbie toy

Midge is a semi-disavowed character in the Barbieverse, created in 1963 to counter claims that Barbie was oversexualized; weirdly, in 1982, Mattel made the decision to release a version of the doll, who appeared to be a young teen, as a pregnant lady, with a detachable bump containing an articulated foetus. Read the rest

New museum all about failure to open in Sweden

What do "Bic for Her" pens, electric facial rejuvenation mask, and Trump: The Game have in common? They were all bizarre and ridiculous commercial products that tanked in the marketplace. This summer, the Museum of Failure will open in Helsingborg, Sweden to celebrate such bumbles and fumbles, along with other products that were bested by competition or simply too ahead of the times for their own good. The curator is Samuel West, a psychologist who studies the science of creativity. From Smithsonian:

"I got tired of all of this glorifying of success, especially within the domain of innovation where 80 to 90 percent of all projects fail," he tells Smithsonian.com. Perhaps as a way to counter the trumpets of success, he started collecting products that represented failure. He says he had no purpose at first, but thought that it was a fun hobby...

Technological gadgets that failed are a big category at the museum. "I could open a whole museum with only smartphones," West says. But other industries are good at making duds as well. Colgate tried to sell beef lasagna. Harley Davidson marketed a perfume.

Read the rest

Creepy, sketchy stalkerware vendor get hacked, announced bug-bounty program

Flexispy (previously) is the creepy, sketchy stalkerware company that makes tools that allow jealous, abusive spouses track their partners, and then hides their profits in offshore money-laundries. Read the rest

United's CEO just lost out on the Chairmanship of United's board

When United CEO Oscar Munoz lied about Dr David Dao, slandering the passenger that was beaten unconscious as a direct result of his employees enacting the policies he put in place, he was acting in the knowledge that he would shortly be elevated to the Chairmanship of United's board of directors. Read the rest

A look inside the shady world of Flexispy, makers of "stalkerware" for jealous spouses

Motherboard's Joseph Cox continues his excellent reporting on Flexispy, a company that make "stalkerware" marketed to jealous spouses through a network of shady affiliates who feature dudes beating up their "cheating girlfriends" after catching them by sneaking spyware onto their devices. Read the rest

More posts