A judge just invalidated the patents on two human genes whose mutations have been linked to breast and ovarian cancer. The genes were isolated by a biotech firm called Myriad Genetics, which argued that because it figured out how to isolate the genes outside of the human body then they were patentable. The judge called that “a ‘lawyer’s trick’ that circumvents the prohibition on the direct patenting of the DNA in our bodies.” The company sells a $3,000 cancer screening kit and has maintained a monopoly on the test because of the patents. [More]
Last Thursday, the FCC started collecting information from consumers about the quality of their broadband service. If you’ve got a PC that can run Java, you can go to Broadband.gov and run the test now. (The FCC will collect your IP address and physical address, but not your name or email address, reports Wired.) If you’ve got an iPhone or Android smartphone, you can download an app to measure your connectivity and report it. [More]
In my household, there’s an ongoing argument about whether bagged salad can be eaten straight from the bag, or whether it should be washed first, or why did we buy this bag of salad instead of more beer. When not championing beer, I’ve always come down on the don’t-bother-washing side, but I might finally agree to change my food prep habits after this recent Consumer Reports study that says 39% of bagged salads are contaminated with bacteria. [More]
Okay, honestly this sort of stuff doesn’t really bother me, but if you’re a neat freak or just enjoy making gross-out faces when it comes to biology, remember to always wash your new clothes before you wear them. Good Morning America tested some new blouses, pants, a jacket, and underwear to see what sort of grime they could find. Here’s a tease about the results: the term “vaginal organisms” is mentioned at one point. [More]
Consumer Reports decided to test the now famous “racist” HP webcam for themselves, being product testers and all, to see if they could replicate the problem or even find a solution to it. The solution: the webcam needs foreground light to function, and the more pigment in your skin, the closer you seem to have to sit. [More]
When the CPSIA—the toy safety law that requires independent lab tests on toys—was passed, a lot of smaller toy manufacturers complained that it was really a dirty trick by the big toy companies to increase overhead for the small ones. Now comes word that the government has secretly exempted Mattel from the law’s testing requirements—even though Mattel was responsible for 6 lead-tainted toy recalls in 2007.
Consumer Reports Evaluates Cool Surge Portable Air Cooler, Made By Same Folks Who Brought You The ìAmish Heaterî
The company behind the “Amish man’s new miracle idea”—a heater—is back! Here’s Consumer Reports’ evaluation of the Cool Surge.
Why let banks have all the fun? Run the numbers on your own personal finances, suggests a certified financial planner in the Dallas Morning News, and see whether or not you’re prepared for disruptions like a layoff or sudden interest rate increase.
Jennifer Reese decided to make six common food items and then determine whether it was better to go the homemade route or to buy from the store. We briefly considered making our own crackers last month in a fit of anger over how expensive generic saltines have become, so we’re glad someone did the research for us.
Spring is coming! Consumer Reports tests scooters and motorcycles for the first time since 1981. [Consumer Reports]
Kevin’s been invited to his friend’s house to hear about a great new business opportunity! He writes, “I did a quick Google search and… while the company appears to be legit, it seems that their way of marketing their products [is] almost pyramid scheme in nature.” The problem for Kevin, and anyone else researching this sort of thing, is it can be hard to tell how much you should trust any specific page of reviews or feedback. Here’s a clear 5-step evaluation to determine whether or not the next big thing is really a multi-level marketing (MLM) scheme.
Hawaii last week became the first state to transition to digital television, leading hundreds of confused locals to call into the FCC’s help center. Though the transition appears to have been a technical success, the new digital signals mays never reach some of the 20,000 Hawaiians who rely on analog service.
Kiplinger has two quizzes named “Financial Truth or Bunk?“, and they go through some of the more popular tips you’ve heard about personal finance, including lines like:
- You can’t lose money investing in bonds.
- Stay-at-home moms or dads need life insurance, too.
- Don’t buy a red car — it’ll cost more to insure.
- Dollar-cost averaging boosts investment returns.
- The percentage of stock in your portfolio should equal 100 minus your age.
If you weren’t one of the 41 million Americans drinking water contaminated with sex hormones and pharmaceutical waste, welcome to the club! Testing prompted by the AP’s damning investigation has revealed that another five million people, including residents of Reno, Colorado Springs, and Chicago, now sip the potentially dangerous pharmaceutical soup.
We want to commend hhole for electing himself or herself guinea pig on this morning’s coffee grounds post. Apparently, hhole immediately started rubbing coffee grounds all over his or her body in order to see if it really would work as a facial scrub/hair shiner. (Of course, this only makes us want to come up with some imaginary “use” for, say, kitty litter or corn meal to see whether hhole takes the bait.) Read this intrepid commenter’s first person report below.
A Denver TV crew unseated a RAM chip and then took it to seven different repair centers for a diagnosis. The resulting displays of incompetence were pretty evenly distributed, with two Best Buy Geek Squads, one Circuit City Firedog, and one locally owned repair center (CTI) all failing miserably (“It’s the motherboard!” they each said). Of the three locations that correctly diagnosed and fixed the problem, Action Computers charged $50, Geek Squad charged $30, and the Firedog tech who hands-down won the challenge “reinstalled the memory cards in less than two minutes, free of charge.”
Jason bought a couple of new Sidekick phones, but quickly discovered that he and his wife couldn’t live with the abysmal battery life. He called T-Mobile and found out that he had a 14-day window during which he could return the phones for a full refund. Before he sent them back in, however, T-Mobile offered to send him two more batteries via expedited shipping to see if the experience would improve. Jason agreed and tested the new batteries, but still wanted to return the phone. But now he had a problem: he was one day outside his “Buyer’s Remorse” period and T-Mobile wouldn’t let him.