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

Amazon Dash buttons on sale today for 99 cents

Amazon has a sale on Dash Buttons. They are stick on buttons with a wireless connection that lets you order household supplies without using your computer and logging on to Amazon. They are regularly $5, but today they're just 99 cents each, and you get a $5 credit on your first press.

This website has lots of projects for hacking Dash buttons. Read the rest

Target will be closing in 10 minutes

Target employee SentioVenia uses all sorts of accents when he informs shoppers that Target will be closing in 10 minutes. A few of them are crude stereotypes, but it's worth it for Mickey Mouse. Read the rest

Instagram of men sitting in the man chair

Miserable Men: "Men that went shopping. It's a global epidemic. Send photos to miserablemenpics@gmail.com" Read the rest

Amazon launches “Etsy-killer” Handmade at Amazon, a marketplace for handmade goods

Online retail giant Amazon just launched a marketplace for handcrafted goods: Handmade at Amazon. It's “an arts-and-crafts bazaar online that squarely takes aim at a niche but growing market dominated by the Brooklyn-based Etsy,” as the New York Times puts it.

Handmade at Amazon went live early Thursday more than 80,000 items from roughly 5,000 sellers in 60 countries around the world. They're launching with only 6 categories — home, jewelry, artwork, stationery and party supplies, kitchen and dining, and baby.

Crafters can sell their crocheted pants or 3D-printed succulent cozies on the new Amazon marketplace, just as they've been able to for years at Etsy, a $2bn-a-year business .

Amazon's business is a lot bigger: $75 billion in annual sales. And Amazon's is growing, while Etsy appears to be challenged. One recent change at Etsy that allowed sellers to outsource their production to others is seen by many as a move away from its maker/seller roots.

Amazon, on the other hand, promises “Genuinely Handmade.” In the launch announcement, Amazon emphasizes that everything will be “crafted and sold directly from artisans.”

“We only approve artisans whose products are handcrafted,” said Amazon in a statement. “We are factory-free.”

Them's fighting words. Is this the end of Etsy as we know it? I hope not, I love Etsy.

Here's the full Amazon press release. And here's a snip from the Times story:

Amazon will start out with six categories — home, jewelry, artwork, stationery and party supplies, kitchen and dining, and baby — Mr.

Read the rest

Fun guide to women's vintage clothing on eBay

Do you dig women's vintage clothes? My wife Kelly Sparks is a fashion designer and stylist who has been a hardcore vintage and thrift treasure hunter since she was in high school. Kelly was asked to write a series of shopping guides on eBay and her first one, no surprise, is "The Thrill of the Hunt: A Personal Stylist's Guide to 10 Vintage Items Every Woman Needs In Her Closet." Read the rest

Douglas Coupland: Why I love shopping

I had a hard time selecting a blockquote from Douglas Coupland's essay on retail shopping because every paragraph is a gem.

I was really excited to go to Harrods in London and when I got there everything was . . . shiny. Everything looked like it was designed by the same guy who did Michael Jackson’s wardrobe, which is fine. I guess I was expecting a whole other level of luxury, which sounds so corny. And what would a whole new level of luxury look like, anyway? In the old days, more luxury meant more jewels and shiny stuff. These days, it usually means a lot less, like Muji or airport interrogation rooms. Humanity actually seems to be split down the middle on luxury: those who want gilded leopard-shaped teapots, and those people who want to live in the white box their iPhone came in.

Image: Wikipedia Read the rest

Go to Kmart to use the Internet to shop at Kmart

"Kmart Solutions" in-store video from 1998. Read the rest

More posts