This year, both Black Friday and Cyber Monday set sales records… for online shoppers. Americans armed with mobile devices, tablets, and computers pulled out their credit cards and placed orders, turning yesterday into the biggest sales day in the history of online shopping. Apparently, Cyber Monday isn’t as pointless as we thought, and rampant discounting does draw shoppers. [More]
It’s always admirable when someone accomplishes a feat that to the average person appears well, a bit dizzying, and an 82-year-old roller coaster devotee’s recent accomplishment is no different: He celebrated his 5,000th ride on a historic wooden roller coaster in Pennsylvania, completing 95 of those trips in one day over the weekend.
The recall of Takata airbags used cars made by multiple manufacturers is massive: currently at 34 million vehicles in the United States alone and the list will apparently grow longer. Many news outlets are referring to this as the largest product recall in United States history, but it isn’t. [More]
The LP has survived the 8-track, the cassette tape, the CDs, the MP3, and streaming audio. But will all that vinyl have a place to live now that IKEA is killing off collectors’ beloved Expedit shelving units? [More]
Maybe you’ve got some old books on your shelf, passed down from Gran’s days hiding in the hayloft dreaming about the land of Oz, or a family Bible that’s been in the family for over 100 years. But then there’s the book believed to be the first ever published in the United States — and as such, it’s quite a bit older and a lot more expensive than anything kicking around in Great Aunt Gertie’s attic. [More]
Billionaire investor Len Blavatnik will pay $3.3 billion to acquire Warner Music Group, which is currently owned by a private investment group controlled by Warner chief Edgar Bronfman. While $3 billion may seem like a high price to pay for a money-losing company with $2 billion in debt, Blavatnik faced competition from over a dozen other bidders, including Sony, Live Nation and Bertelsmann.
The California HealthCare Foundation recently released the results of a survey on electronic medical records and consumer behavior. The survey found that 15% of people would hide things from their doctor if the medical record system shared anonymous data with other organizations. Another 33% weren’t sure, but would consider hiding something.
When an insurer decides whether to offer you a new policy, or whether to raise rates on a current one, he most likely pulls a CLUE report that lists any homeowner or automobile insurance loss claims (or sometimes even just inquiries) that you’ve made over the past 3-7 years. Hopefully you monitor your consumer credit report for errors, but as you can see, that’s not the only one you should keep an eye on.
A fourth grade teacher in Salt Lake City, Utah, bought a box of scrap paper for $20 and discovered it was actually a box of medical records of 28 patients from Central Florida Regional Hospital. The hospital shipped the box via UPS to an audit company in Las Vegas last December. The hospital claims it had been tracking the box since February, but hadn’t told the patients. As for the teacher’s class, her next assignment for the students will be, “Apply for credit card offers using SSNs from the scrap paper box.”
Why play solitaire when you work for the utility company and can look up the mayor’s phone number? An Associated Press investigation reveals that casual snooping is widespread among employees who have access to large customer databases. According to one utility executive, it would be “difficult, if not impossible” to ferret out employees who use sensitive data for identity theft.
Just days after a deputy director of national intelligence told Americans that we need to rethink our concepts of privacy, comes news that it may, in fact, be harming us in the long run. In a recent national survey, nearly 70% of research scientists said the 2003 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is “impeding scientific research, stalling clinical studies and halting others altogether.”
Microsoft beat them to the punch, but Google has announced that they, too, are planning to roll out a service that lets consumers store their medical records online and transfer them between health care providers as needed. Marissa Mayer at Google said the idea was spawned after reports of lost or damaged records in the wake of Hurricane Katrina: “It doesn’t make sense to generate this volume of information on paper. It should be something that is digital. People should have control over their own records.” Mayer says they hope to include things like x-rays, and that it “will take a lot of breakthroughs in digitization.”
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that EMI, a Big Four music label and RIAA member, will release “significant amounts of its catalogue” unencumbered by DRM. The announcement from EMI is expected at an 8 a.m. EST press conference in London, featuring Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
Privately most labels rejected the idea out of hand, but EMI, the world’s third-largest music company by sales, was already quietly exploring the idea of dropping DRM. EMI has struggled to overcome poor results and a laggard digital strategy, potentially contributing to its willingness to take a bold stance on DRM.
EMI will make the DRM-free portions of its catalogue available for download via iTunes. We wonder how the RIAA will react. — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER
• Sales receipts for minor purchases, after you’ve satisfactorily used the item and if it has no warranty.
You mean we don’t need this Ruby Tuesday’s receipt from 1997? —MEGHANN MARCO
The New York Times reports that EMI, one of the Big Four labels, may soon release its music without DRM. The third largest label behind Universal and Sony, murmurs of EMI intentions come on the heels of Steve Jobs’ appeal for DRM-free music.