Just like Amazon, Walmart now offers free next-day delivery

Mega-retailer Walmart on Tuesday announced next-day delivery on more than 200,000 items for orders over $35. Read the rest

Listen: Kmart in-store music/announcements cassette from 1989

Above is the audio from a music/announcement cassette played at Kmart stores in October 1989. At Archive.org, Mark Davis writes:

In the late 1980's and early 1990's, I worked for Kmart behind the service desk and the store played specific pre-recorded cassettes issued by corporate. This was background music, or perhaps you could call it elevator music. Anyways, I saved these tapes from the trash during this period and this video shows you my extensive, odd collection. Until around 1992, the cassettes were rotated monthly. Then, they were replaced weekly. Finally sometime around 1993, satellite programming was intoduced which eliminated the need for these tapes altogether.

The older tapes contain canned elevator music with instrumental renditions of songs. Then, the songs became completely mainstream around 1991. All of them have advertisements every few songs.

Coming soon: a limited-edition, "blue light" vinyl reissue. Just kidding. I think?

Hear dozens more from Davis's collection at Archive.org: Attention K-Mart Shoppers

(via r/ObscureMedia) Read the rest

Mallwave: nostalgic synth music for imaginary and abandoned shopping centers

Mallwave is a microgenre of bedroom electronic music and smooth jazz meant to evoke nostalgia for the vibrant mall scenes of the 1980s and 1990s that many of the music's composers are too young to have experienced or at least remember.

Think of Mallwave as a hauntological soundtrack for an Orange Julius-fueled consumer culture where Suncoast, Merry-Go-Round, and Spencer Gifts anchored suburban reality. (Or, in the case of some of the moodier tracks, the kind of muzak that might play in your mind as you wander an abandoned mall in a Ballardian trance.)

From Hussein Kesvanio's feature in MEL:

“The nostalgia is so real you can cry and wish you went back in time,” reads one comment underneath the video “Neon Wave Mall (Vapor Mix).” “I feel a certain sense of… familiarity watching this footage. Almost like I myself have set foot in these places,” adds a viewer of “Corp Palm Mall.” Under the same video, another person opines: “Why wasn’t I born in this time? This video makes me realize how much things were not as advanced as we have now but it was better. I could be wrong, but sometimes I feel like living around the ‘90s sounds fun. Lifestyle is different, mindset is different and not as much laziness.”

According to writer Joe Koenig, this kind of feeling — a “nostalgia for a past you’ve never known” — is called anemoia. In his ongoing project, The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, Koenig describes it as “the desire to wade into the blurred-edge sepia haze that hangs in the air between people who leer stoically into this dusty and dangerous future.”

Read the rest

Give Women Your Money: Shoppable spreadsheet of women-led businesses

Editor's note: We love this one-stop spreadsheet of women-led businesses created by Krystal Plomatos, and encourage you to share it with friends and family. Give women your money, this holiday season and beyond. Read the rest

Secret Amazon-owned brands "quietly taking over Amazon.com"

If you seee a brand on Amazon and you've never heard of it, there's a chance that it's just Amazon. The company operates a growing number of labels with names like "Arabella", "Lark & Ro" amd "NuPro" to market its own products—and they'll soon be augmented by a more brands "exclusive to Amazon, but not owned by it", absorbed into its Private Brand program. Quartz reports:

Amazon’s push into private labels could threaten the third-party sellers who do business on its website, and are important to the company’s own bottom line. Amazon generated $9.7 billion in revenue from commissions and services it provided to third-party sellers (e.g., fulfillment and shipping fees) in the latest quarter, ended July 26. Earlier this week, eBay sent Amazon a cease-and-desist accusing it of a shady, multiyear campaign to lure eBay sellers over to the Amazon marketplace.

It's posed here as a solution to problems caused by Amazon's current third-party seller platform, which it won't adequately police but also understands is rotting customers' trust in the site. Savvy shoppers already know not to buy certain types of product from Amazon because of couterfeits. As CNBC reports, though, Amazon is unable to avoid the temptation of promoting its own products in competitors' first-party listings too.

Another problem: what Amazon is doing here closely resembles the marketing habits of Chinese exporters who have flooded Amazon with legitimate but low-quality gear. If you search for headphones there, for example, you get some name brands, but most of the first page of results is for brands like "Mpow", "Alihen", "Redess", "Arrela." Which of these are real? Read the rest

Pre-internet analog Dash Buttons

Back in the day, before Amazon and even before the internet, dash buttons took physical form in Reddilist, a handy little wall hanging for the kitchen or pantry with tabs for Instant Vi-Tone, Frostade, or Johnson's Glo-Coat. Read the rest

Canadian mall caught collecting facial recognition data on the sly

When I’m in Calgary, there’s a coffee shop that I like to work at, located in the Chinook Centre Mall. It’s part of a local chain that knows how to make a great iced latte. I’m not in often, but they know me. They know my face.

Apparently, they’re not the only ones.

According to the CBC, the management company that tends to Chinook Center Mall, Cadillac Fairview, has been using facial recognition software to track the sex and age of visitors on the down low.

From The CBC:

A visitor to Chinook Centre in south Calgary spotted a browser window that had seemingly accidentally been left open on one of the mall's directories, exposing facial-recognition software that was running in the background of the digital map. They took a photo and posted it to the social networking site Reddit on Tuesday.

The mall's parent company, Cadillac Fairview, said the software, which they began using in June, counts people who use the directory and predicts their approximate age and gender, but does not record or store any photos or video from the directory cameras.

Cadillac Fairview said the software is also used at Market Mall in northwest Calgary, and other malls nationwide. In Alberta, collecting biometric data, so long as no images are recorded and stored, is allowed, without having to let anyone know that you’re doing it.

That’s frigging greasy.

For their part, Cadillac Fairview says that they aren’t required to let visitors to their property know that they’re being profiled, as the software they use, MappedIn, doesn’t store any photos or biometric information. Read the rest

A visit to China's Commodity City, the world's biggest "shopping mall"

"Commodity City is an observational documentary exploring the daily lives of vendors who work in the largest wholesale consumer market in the world: the Yiwu Markets in China," says director Jessica Kingdon.

Read the rest

Confession: You can't trust a junkie with a new laptop

There's still plenty of life left in my 2015 MacBook Pro. But sooner or later, I'll ditch my computer in favor something new.

The nerd in me is wicked excited with the notion of using an ultra light laptop with an external graphics processor, for several reasons. I've always wanted to own a gaming laptop, but I could never justify the price, or the weight of one in my bag. Going with a computer that can connect to an external GPU means that I could invest in the laptop first, and then the GPU when I could afford it. And since the GPU for the rig is external, I wouldn't be forced to carry around a heavy bastard of a computer with me every time I needed to take off on assignment. That said, I was hesitant to buy one without seeing how it'd perform, first and foremost, as a work machine. I really like the look of the Razer Blade Stealth: the laptop's industrial design is what Apple might have come up with if their design department had a shred of edge or attitude. So, relying on the privilege of my position as a tech journalist, I asked Razer if I could borrow one.

They said yes.

I spent the past month working on Razer's insanely well-built ultrabook. It was pimped out with 16GB of dual channel RAM, and an Intel Core i7 2.70Ghz processor. It's zippy! But then, that's in comparison to my daily driver: a three year old Core i5 with 8GB of RAM. Read the rest

There are two Amazon results for the search term "healing crystal dildo"

Exhibit A (above) is the Jovivi Handmade Natural Rose Quartz Gua Sha Scraping Massage Tool Massage Wand For Acupuncture Therapy Stick Point Treatment. It is 10cm long, $14, and comes with a free bag.

Exhibit B is a 99c song titled "The Crystal Healing Dildo (Original Mix)" by an artist named The Real Kim Shady. It has the parental advisory sticker and is on YouTube with 415 views and the description "no copyright intended." There are no comments. I haven't listened to it.

2 results for "healing crystal dildo" [Amazon.com] Read the rest

Your old gadgets are likely good enough

When I'm not here pointing out dog videos, I spend the rest of my work day as a technology journalist. I decided that I wanted in on this line of work because I love gadgets. There was always something new coming out that I couldn't afford to buy. Now, as I get to play with new tech on an almost daily basis, I don't feel like I'm missing out on much of anything. My office is full of smartphones, computers, wearables and travel gear. It's loaned to me, I play with it and then, I send it back. It's such a privilege to have access to the sorts of swag that a lot of geeks like me drool over. I never get tired of playing with new products. But having done it for close to a decade has left me a bit jaded: what's new is seldom as spectacular as we want it to be.

Take this year's crop of flagship smartphones, for example. They're a little bit faster, a little bit glossier. Maybe the one you've been looking at has an edge-to-edge display. I get it: bezels on a handset are bullshit, so, you totally want one. I know I do. But I also know, having played with them, that the incremental differences between one year's model and the next is so moot, that they won't make a lick of difference in my day-to-day life. TVs are the same. Most of the folks I know just want the shows and movies that they watch to look their best. Read the rest

Support Boing Boing by trying Amazon Prime for free!

All of us at Boing Boing use the hell out of our Amazon Prime memberships to get free two-day shipping on most stuff along with digital benefits like streaming shows, movies, and music. If you don't already have an Amazon Prime membership, you can sign up for a free 30-day trial today and support Boing Boing at the same time! For each qualifying Amazon Prime trial signup, Boing Boing will receive a few bucks that will help us continue bringing you the weird, wonderful, and important news of the day. This benefit ends, for us anyway, at 3 AM ET on Wednesday, July 12. We appreciate your support!

Sign up for a free Amazon Prime Membership Trial and support Boing Boing!

(And if you do try it but don't like it, here's how to turn it off before it automatically converts to a paid membership at the end of the trial period.) Read the rest

Why people don't return shopping carts

Why do so many people just leave their shopping carts in the parking lot after unloading groceries instead of rolling them to the receptacles? Sure, one answer is laziness. But it's actually more interesting than that, involving what kind of cart user you are and how your motivation aligns with two general categories of social norms. You may be someone who always returns the cart, never returns it, only does so if it's convenience, feels pressure to return it from either a cart attendant or someone waiting to park in the spot where your cart is parked, you have children and they get a kick out of returning it. From Krystal D'Costa's "Anthropology in Practice" column in Scientific American:

Social norms fall into two general categories. There are injunctive norms, which drive our responses based on our perception of how others will interpret our actions. This means that we're inclined to act in certain ways if we think people will think well or think poorly of us. And there are descriptive norms, where our responses are driven by contextual clues. This means we're apt to mimic behaviors of others—so what we see or hear or smell suggests the appropriate/accepted response or behavior that we should display.

Supermarkets can try and guide our behavior with receptacles or cart attendants, but they’re competing with our own self-serving goals, which in this case may be staying dry, keeping an eye on our children, or simply getting home as quickly as possible, and we’re being guided by the ways others behave on top of that.

Read the rest

What Target's graphic designers know about America that you don't

I was in Target yesterday and spotted this remarkable work of art disguised as a marketing hoarding (it is in fact a tryptich with Darth Vader off to the left.) I'm hoping someone well-educated might explain to me what it means. Read the rest

America's perfect curmudgeon runs sweet bookstore, is like totally awesome

Jim Toole, the proprietor of Capitol Hill books in D.C., appears as a curmudgeon in Caroline Cunningham's wonderful profile of him and his overflowing store.

You also have a list of words that no one is allowed to speak in your store.

I hear “Perfect,” I hear “Like, like, like, like,” and I hear “Awesome” every 32 seconds and it was causing me to have brain damage. So I try to ask people when they’re here to use one of the 30,000 words in the thesaurus other than, “Perfect! Awesome! Oh my God!” When you’re sitting here for 20 years and hear that limited amount of vocabulary that people seem to enjoy using, it really [causes] destruction of gray matter. ...

The list of books that you won’t resell—why those?

I won’t let romance novels pass the door sill.

Why is that?

Because they suck as literature. You like those bodice-rippers? The other thing that’s pretty lousy is business. I take business books, business leadership and management crapola—I take them, but I stuff them in the business closet, out of the way. Only because people ask for them, and usually they’re all obsolete the night that they’re printed. I don’t let computer books in here because they are obsolete the day they’re printed.

Have a good one, Jim! Read the rest

This adorable two-year-old is a grocery shopping pro

Beckett does not mess around when it comes to Whole Foods. Read the rest

Hater's guide to the Williams-Sonoma Catalogue

Drew Magary offers The 2016 Hater’s Guide To The Williams-Sonoma Catalog.

I was on the Jersey Turnpike when I saw it. I was driving my family to New York for Thanksgiving and there, along the shittiest stretch of road in the shittiest state in America, I saw the Williams-Sonoma fulfillment center: a vast hangar that seemed to stretch a mile long, with shipping containers lined up along the side, like piglets feeding on a series of artisanal teats.

He picked the perfect catalog for this sort of thing and the perfect presentation, so I'm just going to snag Jim Cooke's perfect "eat shit" illustration to go with it.

The only thing I ever bought from Williams-Sonoma was a fancy $100 Breville electric kettle whose LED light and rubber seal failed three months in, right after the take-it-back-for-a-refund point was passed. I made this Venn diagram to satisfy my lust for revenge but never published it.

Read the rest

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