Monthly Archives: August 2016

31Aug 2016

Ibotta Cash-Back Platform Now Rewards Users for Shopping in Other Apps – SocialTimes


Cash-back shopping platform Ibotta announced the release of its app-to-app marketplace, which allows shoppers to earn cash-back rewards by making purchases within supported mobile applications.

The launch partners for Ibotta’s app-to-app marketplace include Boxed, Caviar, delivery.com, DoorDash, Drizly, Groupon, Hotels.com, Jet and Spring. With this program, Ibotta users can earn cash-back rewards from these retailers by making purchases in their mobile apps.

As examples, a user can earn a 5 percent cash-back reward from Jet and a 15 percent cash-back reward from Boxed.

When a user activates one of these cash-back rewards in Ibotta, they will be sent directly to the retailer’s app, where they can make a purchase. If the user doesn’t have the retailer’s app installed on their device, they will be directed to the app store to download it. Contextual commerce company Button powers the app-to-app deep-linking experience for Ibotta.

Once a user makes a purchase in a supported retailer’s app, Button will verify the user’s Ibotta rewards.

In a statement, Bryan Leach, founder and CEO of Ibotta, commented:

More people than ever before are making purchases through mobile apps as a convenient way to shop right from their smartphones, but until now, there hasn’t been a way to save on those in-app purchases. Now, shoppers can unlock offers through Ibotta before they shop on other apps, and automatically earn rewards whenever they book hotel rooms, order food delivery, purchase concert tickets and more.

Ibotta is available to download for free on the iTunes App Store and Google Play. Ibotta said its users have earned more than $110 million in rewards since the platform launched in 2012.

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31Aug 2016

How to Travel With Your Mom – Condé Nast Traveler


John Crux

Next stop? Nicaragua.

There’s always one knock-down, drag-out fight per trip. Like clockwork, it happens on the second or third day in, when all the pent-up stress and discomfort of traveling erupts over something trivial—like where to eat breakfast. Names are called. Terrible things are said. I threaten to send her home on the next flight out. She swears she’ll never travel with me again.

Welcome to vacations with Mom.

In the last 15 years, my mom and I have shared some excellent adventures together: Iceland, Ireland, Norway, Morocco, Spain, Japan, Mexico, and beyond. But it hasn’t always been easy.

The root cause of the friction can be blamed on our 30 year age gap and incongruous travel styles: I pack light and carry on, while she packs for every season and conceivable occasion. I want to eat, see, and do as much as possible; she wants to sleep late and chill. I want to walk or hike everywhere; she wants to hail a taxi to drive us two blocks. I want to meet real locals living real lives; she’s okay with a sanitized tourist experience.

The truth is, we’re probably the world’s most incompatible travel companions. Yet we’ve figured out a system that works for us because the payoff—the bonding, the memories—is worth the petty bickering.

Our first real trip together, just the two of us, was Beijing in 2003—the first time either of us had been to Asia. You should have seen our faces when we realized we had mistakenly ordered a hot pot filled with seahorses, or fumbled around our first squat toilet. We laughed about it then, we laugh about it now. That’s something special.

That was just the beginning. In Madrid, we ducked into a bingo hall and lost miserably because we couldn’t keep up with the numbers fired off in Spanish. On a trip to Essaouira, Morocco we met the kindest of strangers, kibitzing over tea on the floors of tiny shops, while in Dingle, Ireland we took a gamble on what looked like a very cheesy concert, only to discover it was an excellent Celtic jam session headlined by one of the country’s fastest teenage step dancers. And who could forget Reykjavik, where we had to snake a clogged hotel toilet with a bent hanger? See? Bonding! Memories!

To get to this point of mutual enjoyment as travelers, we both agree to make concessions. I handle the research, bookings, transportation, language, itineraries, maps, and money—always taking into consideration my mom’s various limitations, which include no long walks, extreme temperatures, or big cities. My mom’s job is to show up and be as open-minded and flexible as possible.

From there, we strike mini-deals: If my mom has no interest in the museums I want to check out, I’ll make the rounds in the morning and meet her later for lunch. Then, if I think my mom might hate a certain restaurant, I have her green light the menu before we go—to save me the mortification of walking out after we’ve already sat down. (I’m still scarred by the time I took her to dinner at Moosewood, the famous vegetarian restaurant in Ithaca, New York. Upon discovering that there were no meat dishes available, my mom proceeded to groan in agony, as if eating eggplant as an entree was the worst fate a human could endure. “That’s okay, we’ll go to Burger King afterward,” she announced, loudly enough for people in New Jersey to hear.) So it’s not always a cakewalk, you know?

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Adventures in food ordering in Beijing.

It goes two ways, of course. When I asked my mom the worst thing about traveling with me, she said, “You walk too fast and too much. You’re also very forward-thinking in your food choices; I really could have lived without tasting raw whale in Iceland.” (For the record, she liked it until I told her what it was.)

And the best? “Your exuberance for just about anything,” she said. “Hit some baseballs in a batting cage in New York City? Sure, let’s do it! Go horseback riding at a remote ranch outside San Miguel de Allende? Hey, what are we waiting for? Saddle up! Venture out at midnight to see if we can see the Northern Lights in Iceland? Who cares if it’s cold, we’re in Iceland!”

The admiration is mutual. For all her kvetching, my mom’s a pretty good sport. During a single trip to Hawaii, we went parasailing, despite her fear of heights, and I watched her wade waist-deep into a violently crashing sea on Ha’ena Beach in Kauai. The waves were so powerful, not even the local surfers would go in. But there she went—seizing the moment until the moment knocked her off her feet and pulled her under. When she finally reemerged and scrambled back onto the sand, she was still grinning ear to ear.

And for being such an allegedly “conservative” eater, I once watched her load up on stinky, oily fish at a buffet in Norway. When I stared at her plate in shock and horror, she looked at me and shrugged—the universal sign for #YOLO before #YOLO was a thing.

Our differences are often our strengths: I’m a textbook introvert, she’s an extrovert. And though it embarrasses me to no end, I appreciate that she will strike up a conversation with anyone and everyone. On that trip to Dingle, she made me pull over the rental car so she could chat with an elderly sheepherder guiding his flock down a back road. I was too shy to get out of the car, while she was busy making friends. I love that about her.

Is traveling with my mom the easiest way to travel? Of course not. But the thought of not traveling with her breaks my heart—a reality I’m just now starting to contend with as her spine gets creaky, her knees give out, and her motivation to sit on a cramped airplane for long stretches of time dwindles. She’s only 64, but always worrying that her next trip will be her last.

I refuse to accept this. She may have no desire to schlep across South America, never love Tokyo or Mexico City like I do, nor ever set foot in Iran or Azerbaijan, but so what? We’ll find something she can do. We’ll make the concessions. We’ll meet somewhere in the middle.

I was thinking Nicaragua this spring. What do you say, Mom?

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31Aug 2016

Police: 'Be aware of credit card skimmers' – KYTX


TYLER – Across the country an increase of credit card abuse cases related to skimming of credit cards, at gas pumps and ATM machines have been observed by law enforcement.

Suspects are placing skimmer devices inside of gas pumps that capture your credit card information.  The suspect will return for the skimmer device or use Bluetooth to download the credit card information that will allow them to duplicate your credit card.
When using your card to pay at the pump, be observant for the gas pump seal, which should be in place around the outer door opening. Thieves normally target pumps that are on the outside isle of the station, shielded from the view of the clerk.
Suspects are also targeting outdoor ATM machines by placing skimmers on them as well. The suspect will duplicate a cover that matches the cover you slide your card in and place it over the original card entry of the machine.
They also use a secondary small surveillance camera that allows them to capture you entering your pin number.  We encourage you to examine the machine and attempt to see if the card entry is loose or doesn’t fit tight.  Also look for a secondary small camera that may be looking at the key pad.
If you observe any of these suspicious tampering devices call police immediately.
Area law enforcement agencies in and around Tyler has investigated these type of crimes.
We strongly encourage you to monitor your debit card and credit card information to detect if your card has been compromised.  If it has, contact your credit card company and your local law enforcement agency.

(© 2016 KYTX)

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31Aug 2016

Uber & Visa launch Local Offers, a rewards program offering free rides for spending at nearby businesses – TechCrunch



Uber and Visa this morning announced the launch of a new rewards program which will credit Uber users with free rides by spending at nearby businesses. Called “Local Offers,” the system works by offering one “Uber point” for each dollar spent at a business using the Visa card that’s saved in your Uber account. When you accumulate 100 points, you’ll earn a free ride up to $10.

Local Offers is not a temporary marketing campaign, however – the feature is now built into the Uber mobile application, right above the “Promotions” section in the left-side menu. From here, riders can view a list of participating places where they can earn Uber points, enroll in the program, and track their progress and points.

Riders’ point balance will be increased immediately upon swiping at the merchant due to Uber’s partnership with Visa on the new loyalty product. The system is powered by Visa’s “Commerce Network” – an offers and loyalty platform that connects transactions between merchants. On this platform, qualifying purchases at point-of-sale can be applied directly to cardholders’ accounts, in order to eliminate things like paper coupons or other redemption schemes.

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As Visa notes, there’s already a tight connection between Uber and its own company as U.S. cardholders spend more than $144 billion per year in physical stores, with $2 billion of that occurring as soon as a rider steps out of an Uber. With Local Offers, Visa aims to boost that spending even further, allowing local businesses to acquire new customers, increase sales, and drive loyalty, it says.

Local Offers is debuting in San Francisco and L.A., and includes participating businesses like Barcito, Delarosa, Ike’s, Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que, Mixt Greens, Peet’s Coffee, PizzaRev, Specialty’s Café & Bakery, Super Duper, The Pie Hole, Uno Dos Tacos, Veggie Grill, and Wurstküche.

“We’ve built Local Offers right into the Uber app, making it a one stop shop for riders to see our curated list of places and track progress toward free rides,” said Drew Quinn, product manager at Uber, in a statement. “We’re excited to partner with Visa to help riders get even more out of their experience shopping and dining at the places they love, and the local favorites they’ve yet to try.”

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31Aug 2016

For creating travel memories, Russell Banks prefers words to images – PBS NewsHour


HARI SREENIVASAN: If you’re planning to travel to Iceland or some other destination, you might want to take a tip from novelist and poet Russell Banks. In the age of social media, selfies and even selfie sticks, he considers the differences between a traveler and a tourist.

RUSSELL BANKS, Author: One way to distinguish a tourist from a traveler is that a tourist carries a camera or a phone and takes pictures with one or both. A traveler carries no camera and uses his or her phone mainly to make occasional phone calls home or when lost for the GPS.

I used to carry a camera when I traveled, but almost never took any pictures with it, and apologized when I returned home, until I realized that my reluctance to point and click was really a reluctance to line up and edit and frame whatever I was seeing or hearing or smelling.

The fall of the morning sunlight against the glittering sea. The crinkled face of an old woman selling spices in the market. It was, I believe, an instinctive reluctance to remove myself from my experience, an experience that could only occur far from home and habit, where the rules as much as the landscape were unfamiliar.

To photograph it was somehow to reduce and domesticate my experience and ultimately to kill it. I knew this, but still felt somehow apologetic for not having brought back a photographic record of the death of my experience.

Then, some time in the early 1980s, I was invited by a few magazines and journals to take a trip anywhere you like, the Seychelles in the middle of the Indian Ocean, Alaska, the Andes, and write about it and get paid for it, travel writing. The photography will be taken care of by a professional. I could leave my camera at home, and did.

Instead, I brought a notebook. And every night before sleeping, I spent a half-hour and sometimes more remembering and recapitulating my day, even when nothing happened, when I met no one of interest or went nowhere beyond the veranda outside my bedroom, and merely read the local newspaper and chatted briefly with the housekeeper, because there was always something happening in my head.

When we are dislocated, not relocated, we think new thoughts, deal with unbidden strange emotions, reflect on our past in a freshened way, from a new perspective.

We remember and are surprisingly saddened by a brief liaison or flirtation we have not thought about in decades. We decide to reread that 1,000-page novel our smartest friends insist is a work of genius, but somehow we didn’t get it the first time around and gave up 50 pages in.

It’s now more than 30 years that I have traveled without a camera and snapped no pictures with my iPhone, and I never apologize for it. Instead, when I travel, every night in a hotel room or a cabin or a tent, I sit down and write, sometimes by candlelight, an account of my day, whether I’m writing for hire or just traveling on my own.

My notes have the effect of organizing my attention for the next day, making me a sharper observer, a more careful listener, a more thoughtful guest.

I don’t do it to show to anyone else or so I can reread my notes months or years later and remember the joys and pains of that particular journey. No need. The simple act of writing it down in the first place imprints the journey in my conscious memory, stores it there, like a buried treasure. It’s my private treasure, and only I possess the map.

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31Aug 2016

Waynesboro PD Investigating Credit Card Skimming at DCCU ATM – NBC 29 News


Waynesboro police are reporting another incident of credit card skimming on ATMs in the city.

On Sunday, August 28, a DuPont Community Credit Union customer discovered the card reader cover appeared loose. 

It came off the machine and the customer called police, who determined it was a device to snag people’s card information.

A gray box with a pinhole camera to capture pin numbers was on the upper right corner of the ATM.

The credit union has contacted all affected customers.

Waynesboro Police Department Press Release:

The Waynesboro Police Department is investigating another incident of “skimming devices” found at a city financial institution over the weekend. An alert customer noticed the devices on the two ATMs at the DuPont Community Credit Union, 140 Lucy Lane.

On August 28, 2016 at approximately 12:45 PM, a 38 year old Stuarts Draft man was at the credit union planning to use one of the outdoor ATMs. Before he inserted his card, he noticed that the card reader cover appeared loose. He wiggled it and it come off the machine.The complainant mentioned to police that had been alerted by DCCU of past skimming attempts at their branches and determined this to be a skimming device. The device was the same color and shape as the existing card reader cover and simply fit over it.

A skimmer captures the information of any debit or credit card that is inserted in it.

In addition to skimmer, a gray box with a pin-hole camera was put on the upper right corner of the ATM. The camera is designed to record a customer’s PIN when it is entered into the ATM. The box was painted to match the outside of the ATM. The customer found that the second ATM at the branch was also equipped with skimming devices.

DCCU has identified and contacted all members that used the ATM during the period the devices were in place. No other members are affected.

The Police Department is recommending anyone who uses outdoor credit or debit card swiping machines, such as ATMs, “Pay at the Pump” gas or car wash kiosks, to use caution and inspect the card reader before using it.

The Police Department is hoping to review the ATM’s security footage in an attempt to identify a suspect.

Anyone with information in this case is asked to call the Waynesboro Police Department at (540) 942-6675 or Central Shenandoah Crime Stoppers at 1(800) 322-2017. Information given to Crime Stoppers may be given anonymously.  Callers with information that lead to an arrest in this case are eligible for a cash reward of up to $1000.

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30Aug 2016

Listen Up: Frank Ocean lets down for years, but rewards with 'Blonde' – OSU – The Lantern


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Frank Ocean accepts an award at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, on Sunday, February 10, 2013. Credit: Courtesy of TNS

The private public figure doesn’t exist in 2016. This is the age of transparency, when almost everything is shared, and what isn’t is dug out by TMZ or anyone with a smartphone. We are so thirsty to be in the loop that there is a cycle of grief for fans in waiting: frustration, desperation, resigned nihilism.

Consider the case of Frank Ocean. In 2012, he released “Channel Orange,” an R&B-soul confessional that put him at superstar level almost overnight.  

He did the post-album routine: festivals, the occasional interview and then he was gone. For a while, fans were content to bask in the “Channel Orange” afterglow, but days (then years) piled up. Canceled shows and rumored release days passed without a follow-up. Ocean isn’t on Twitter or Instagram; his online presence is limited to Tumblr where he posts only the occasional message. Fans responded to the delay by bombarding the comment sections of his brother, mother and collaborators with indignance.

A full year after the first release date passed, the rumors started again, and none other than The New York Times said Ocean’s “Channel Orange” follow-up would come on Aug. 5. There was not much surprise when it didn’t. The surprise came when “Blonde” finally dropped, two weeks later.

That’s not a lot of material from which to form the backstory of an album, unlike, say, Kanye West, who is always in the news. The interim between Ocean’s releases was marked by inactivity. Leading up to the release of his album, Ocean didn’t form the backstory, but we, the fans, did. We lacked information, so we created a narrative and built hype to which the album, whenever it came, would have a hard time to live up to.

But, of course, “Blonde” is great. How anyone considered the possibility that it wouldn’t be, I don’t know. There was so much mystery surrounding the whole thing, but all I really wanted to know was what it would sound like. There was no single or full song released in the intervening years, and the lingering question was where Ocean would take his sound next.

It’s unlikely that any track on the record will be played on the radio, there are no immediately accessible pop songs. It’s filled with a surprising amount of guitars, but lack of drums, and incredibly intricate composition in every song.

It’s the sound of an artist putting everything he has into a record, a release that was four years in the making, and every bit better for it. At first, it seems minimalist, but for everything it strips away from “Channel Orange” it adds a degree of experimentation, ending up with a degree of subtle complexity that might not come across on the first listen.

Some of the best moments are the simplest; the contortion of Ocean’s voice on the first half of “Nikes,” the backing keys on “Solo.” Ocean gives his fans what they want: himself, upfront, without a filter.

With lyrics that read like poetry, closer “Futura Free” has the most quotable lines. “They wanna murder me like Selena,” one lyric reads, a comment on the fervor of the listening public as Selena was a singer who was murdered by the president of her fan club. “Jay (Z) hit me on the email/ Said I oughta act my net worth,” reads another, a reminder that Ocean’s gotten so big that American quasi-royalty offer him advice.

The list of collaborators is long, but the only obvious guest voice is Andre 3000, who gets a whole song to himself on “Solo (Reprise).” He delivers a dizzying minute-long verse, and solidifies himself as Ocean’s public inspiration to appear, amaze, then disappear again.

“Blonde” is enough that I feel like I won’t need to crave new Frank Ocean music again after his inevitable upcoming withdrawal from the public. Just don’t call me on it in three years.

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30Aug 2016

Both Sides Urge Justices To Resolve Credit Card Law – CBS Local


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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – A group of Florida businesses agrees the U.S. Supreme Court should resolve questions about the constitutionality of a state law that has barred merchants from imposing surcharges on customers who pay with credit cards — but the answer might ultimately come in a case from New York.

Attorney General Pam Bondi in June asked the Supreme Court to take up the dispute, after a federal appeals court ruled that the law violated the First Amendment. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the law allows businesses to offer discounts to customers who pay with cash but does not allow surcharges for credit-card purchases — a situation the ruling likened to “distinctions in search of a difference.”

Lawyers for four Florida businesses that challenged the law filed a document this month agreeing that the case is worthy of a Supreme Court decision. But they urged justices to resolve the issues through a New York case, which involves a similar law and was filed earlier.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a New York law blocking businesses from imposing surcharges for credit-card purchases. That conflicts with the ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the Florida case — a conflict that could serve as potential grounds for the Supreme Court to decide to take up the case.

“None of this is to say that this (Florida) case would be a poor vehicle. It would not be,” said the document filed this month in the Florida case. “But there is nothing to suggest that it would be a better vehicle than (the New York case). If anything, the robust record of enforcement in (the New York case) makes that case a superior vehicle. That record includes a criminal prosecution and numerous detailed and uncontested declarations from merchants targeted by the New York attorney general in recent years for violating the law.”

A petition filed in May at the Supreme Court in the New York case said 10 states have laws regulating how businesses can communicate price differences when customers pay with credit cards or cash.

Florida has allowed businesses to offer discounts to customers who pay with cash but has not allowed price differences to be construed as surcharges for credit-card users.

The challenge to the Florida law was filed in 2014 by businesses that had received “cease-and-desist” letters from the state related to alleged violations of the credit-card surcharge law, according to court documents. The businesses were Dana’s Railroad Supply in Spring Hill, TM Jewelry LLC in Key West, Tallahassee Discount Furniture in Tallahassee and Cook’s Sportland in Venice. The law says violators can face second-degree misdemeanor charges.

The businesses argued, and a majority of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, that the law violates free-speech rights. In the document filed this month at the Supreme Court, for example, the businesses’ lawyers wrote that Dana’s Railroad Supply wanted to “disclose the true cost of accepting credit cards” to customers of the model-railroad hobby shop.

“They want to put their sign back up without fearing criminal prosecution,” the document, posted on the website SCOTUSblog said. “They would like to truthfully tell their customers — ‘both at the entrance to (the) store and at the register so that there will be no surprise’ — that the store ‘will add a small fee onto the sale if they choose to pay by credit card, and that there will be no fee if they choose to pay with cash or debit.’ The other respondents (businesses) want to say the same.”

But in the June petition to the Supreme Court, Bondi’s office argued that the law deals with a “pricing practice” and is not a free-speech issue.

“This (Supreme) Court’s intervention is necessary to correct the 11th Circuit’s contravention of a well-established axiom of First Amendment law: Regulations of economic conduct do not implicate the First Amendment,” the petition said. “The surcharge statute, by prohibiting a particular pricing practice, is just such a regulation. If allowed to remain, the 11th Circuit’s holding to the contrary will obscure the bright line that this (Supreme) Court has drawn between speech and economic conduct and … will cast a First Amendment cloud over a variety of economic regulations.”

The News Service of Florida’s Jim Saunders contributed to this report.

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29Aug 2016

Washington College creates a scholarship that rewards parents who save – Washington Post


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Washington Post

Washington College creates a scholarship that rewards parents who save
Washington Post
Parents of Washington College students who use money from a college savings plan to pay for tuition this year may receive a portion of it back through a pilot program that the liberal arts school in Chestertown, Md., launched Monday. The program
Sheila Bair has a plan to increase college savingMarketWatch

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29Aug 2016

5 Ways Travel Makes You Smarter – Condé Nast Traveler


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That ‘cultured’ feeling you get from visiting La Sagrada Familia? Totally real.

There are plenty of things you can spend money on that don’t increase your IQ, but travel is one wise investment that pays annual dividends beyond the fun of bragging to your friends about your most recent vacation. That’s right, travel actually makes you smarter.

In fact, a recent study of chimpanzees in Uganda showed that those who traveled farther on a regular basis were more resourceful and intelligent than those that didn’t. Given that we share 99 percent of the same DNA as chimps, it’s not a stretch to believe that the same is true of humans. “Our results show travel fosters tool use in wild chimpanzees and it may also have been a driving force in early technological evolution by humans,” writes Dr. Thibaud Gruber, one of the authors of the study. Here are five ways travel expands your mind.

Expanded Reality

Traveling to new places literally develops your sense of reality. As you drink in new sights and sounds, you are broadening the scope of your understanding of the world around you and of new cultures that are different from yours, which can lead to all sorts of goodness, including heightened success in your career, according to one study. “Multicultural engagement—the extent to which students adapted to and learned about new cultures… predicted the number of job offers students received after the [international] program,” they noted.

Boosted Brain Power

Travel helps fuel your brain to function at a higher level. One study showed that retired people who travel have 75 percent higher rates of mental stimulation, and 82 percent have an increased ability to “get things done,” versus 57 percent of those who don’t travel. The study’s authors recommend that “businesses encourage use of vacation time as a way to improve health and wellness in the workplace.” Take note, bosses everywhere!

Better Memory

Traveling to a new country, or even a new region in your country, where different languages or different inflections or idioms are spoken, helps increase your attention span and short term memory. Of course, there are also benefits to learning words and phrases in other languages that don’t exist in your native tongue, as it equips you with ways of describing things that your primary language may be lacking (check out these truly awesome words that sadly don’t exist in English).

Increased Creativity

Taking in the aesthetic greatness of the Eiffel Tower or La Sagrada Familia isn’t just enjoyable; it actually enriches your own imagination. The more time you spend in other countries, the more creative you become. Adapting to new smells, tastes, and sights creates new neuropathways in your brain, which enable new ways of thinking and increased flow of creativity.

Strength in Vulnerability

If you’ve ever arrived in a foreign country with zero knowledge of the language, culture, or social norms and have to struggle to figure out how to get to your destination in one piece, then you know what vulnerability feels like. It can be scary at first, but it’s that ability to think on your feet and handle a situation that makes you realize just how strong and capable you are. To quote the Buddhist teacher Pema Chödrön: “To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest.”

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