This Graphic Shows How Americans Spend Money In Real Time

Watch retail sales in real time.

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Prepare to be hypnotized by a second-by-second visualization of America’s retail expenditures.

Retale, a location-based app and website that aggregates weekly retail circulars, created a real-time visualization of how Americans spend, from coffees sold at Starbucks to credit card transactions to sales of firearms. The count starts from the moment the webpage is opened — after a few minutes, you’ll see sales of toys outpace firearms, though fall far behind lottery cards — among other interesting patterns.

The company’s references are listed below the graphic. It says it was inspired by the popular “Internet in Real-Time” chart.

3. Snapshot after 299 seconds:

Snapshot after 299 seconds:

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Hillary Clinton’s book ranks among ‘kinda fitting’ company on Amazon!/fran_chambers/status/484370590409981953

Sales of Hillary Clinton’s book “Hard Choices” aren’t going nearly as well as the publisher had hoped:!/RoigFranzia/status/484363304052072449

The sales rank of the book is falling on Amazon, and it’s now next to some instructional company:!/lachlan/status/484360886279499776

It’s a close one:!/TheBrandonMorse/status/484371216787333120


The book has high customer ratings. The potty training book, that is:!/JennJacques/status/484372506141138945!/adopolitics/status/484373220729323520



‘LOL’ Hillary makes hard choices in the ‘lightning round’

Decisions, decisions! Jim Treacher has some ‘hard choices’ to make about Hillary’s book

‘Don’t want to ruin the ending, but …’: Conan O’Brien has a hunch about ‘Hard Choices’

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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Airlifted From Ship After Kidney-Stone Attack


Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos suffered a kidney-stone attack on a cruise ship in the Galapagos Islands on New Year’s Day, an Amazon spokesperson confirmed to Mashable Sunday.

Bezos was airlifted from the cruise ship by the Ecuadorean Navy for treatment, according to multiple reports. The navy helicopter flew him from Santa Cruz Island to Baltra Island. Bezos’ private plane then flew him back to the United States.

The cruise ship was traveling between the islands of Floreana and Santa Cruz when Bezos fell ill around mid-afternoon, according to Reuters, citing the navy.

“We landed our helicopter on a football pitch there,” Juan Carlos Ibarra, the helicopter’s pilot, told Reuters. “They told us that a doctor had already gone in boat to treat him onboard the yacht.

“They stabilized him and took him to the United States. He was conscious, but he was on a drip.”

Amazon spokesperson Drew Herdener told Mashable that Bezos is feeling well.

“Jeff got a good outcome. No surgery was required,” he said in an email Sunday. Herdener added that Bezos sent an email saying, “Galapagos: five stars. Kidney stones: zero stars.”

Image: David Ryder/Getty Images

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Amazon Prime Air Drone Delivers A Package In Just 30 Minutes (Video)

Amazon released teaser footage earlier today, showcasing its forthcoming drone delivery service.

The video tells the story of a family in need of a pair of cleats for their daughter, Millie. After placing the order on Amazon Prime Air, the shoes are delivered in no more than half an hour.

Presenter Jeremy Clarkson describes the “miracle of modern technology” and shows off the Amazon drone as it rises just under 400 feet in the air before jetting off at an average speed of 55 mph.

Clarksonsays there will be a “family” of drones of different designs for different environments.

Amazon revealed the drone delivery system two years ago, at which time Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said it would be ready for customer use in “four or five years.”

The company’s site still acknowledges the service will “take some time” to become available, specifically while the US Federal Aviation Administration finalizes its airspace rules for commercial drones.

Check out the teaser video above, and see the Amazon Prime Air original release footage below.

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Newly-Discovered “Bat Frog” Named After Ozzy Osbourne

While exploring part of the vast, largely untamed wilderness that is the exquisite Amazon rainforest, a team of scientists came across a rather curious species of amphibian: a tiny tree frog with a piercing, bat-like call.

This unique and highly unusual “bat-voice” was an immediate giveaway that the species was unknown to science. “I had never heard anything like it,” said one of the frog’s discoverers, Pedro Peloso.

Other characteristics that set the bizarre species apart from other known tree frogs include long, witch-like pointed fingers and toes and the male’s curiously large vocal sac. Vocal sacs are stretchy, almost transparent membranes of skin possessed by male calling frogs that can be inflated during vocalizations. The sound comes from air being rushed through the larynx and across the vocal chords, which is amplified by the resonating qualities of the pouch. While it’s known that frogs can produce a rich variety of calls, this is the first known species that sounds like a bat.

As avid fans of Black Sabbath, the team decided to name the two-centimeter-long species after the rock band’s lead singer Ozzy Osbourne. Unlike the recently described tarantula species that was named after John Lennon purely because this singer was an idol of the discoverer, there is reason behind this name choice. Back in 1981, Ozzy Osbourne accidentally bit the head off a live bat that was chucked at him during a concert. According to Osbourne, he thought that the bat was a rubber replica. Descriptions of Dendropsophus ozzyi can be found in the journal Zootaxa.

The species was discovered back in 2009 as Peloso and colleagues embarked on a month-long expedition of Floresta Nacional de Pau-Rosa, an area of the Brazilian Amazon. Twenty-one specimens were collected in total from three different areas, suggesting that the animal is probably common and widespread in the forest. Because this region is relatively well-explored, the discovery serves as a reminder of just how rich the biodiversity in this forest is. 

[Via National Geographic, Zootaxa]

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Netflix Drone To Home Ad Mocks Amazon’s Drone Delivery (Video)

Netflix’s ‘Drone 2 Home’ video presents the company’s same day DVD delivery service, poking fun at Amazon’s Prime Air drone delivery. This fake parody commercial was produced for the Netflix DVD division’s annual meeting.

H/T: Hacking Netflix via Engadget

Amazon’s Life-Changing Instant Pickup Service Prepares Your Order In 2 Minutes

Amazon Prime’s next-day delivery has been quite a game-changer for those of us with little patience for the delivery process. You might’ve wondered, How could receiving my Amazon order any easier? Well, it just did. On Tuesday, Aug. 15, the company launched Amazon’s Instant Pickup Service in select cities.

What does that mean?

For starters, Prime and Prime Student memberscan now receive orders in just minutes (or less), according to a press release on Amazon’s website. It’s completely free for members. However, not all products will qualify for Instant Pickup. There’s a curated list of products (e.g. phone chargers, snacks, Amazon devices) customers can choose from, rather than Amazon’s full library.

How does it work?

Using the Amazon App, add everything you want to your cart and select Instant Pickup at checkout. A staff member at your local pickup center will put your ordered items in a locker within that two minute time frame. And that’s it! You can then pick up your items at your leisure.

Where is it available?

Right now, it’s available at select pickup locations near college campuses in the following cities: Atlanta, GA; Berkley, CA; Columbus, OH; College Park, MD; and Los Angeles, CA.

According to Amazon’s director of student programs, Ripley MacDonald, the new service is all about making life easier for customers, and don’t worry they be bringing it to more locations soon. MacDonaldsaid in a statement,

As shopping behaviors continue to evolve, customers consistently tell us that they want items even faster. Whether it’s a snack on-the-go, replacing a lost phone charger in the middle of a hectic day or adding Alexa to your life with an Echo, Instant Pickup saves Prime members time. While Instant Pickup is available at select pickup locations today, we’re excited about bringing this experience to more customers soon.

Fingers crossed it comes to NYC soon!

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Inside Amazon’s High Tech Fulfillment Centers

Amazon unveils their eighth generation fulfillment center which utilizes robotics, Kiva technology, vision systems and almost 20 years worth of software and mechanical innovations. The company is currently operating 10 of these new generation fulfillment centers across the U.S.

Some features of Amazon’s eighth generation fulfillment center include:

– Kiva robots of which Amazon currently has more than 15,000 operating across the U.S.;
– Robo-Stow, one of Earth’s largest robotic arms moving large quantities of inventory for customer order fulfillment;
– New vision systems enabling the unloading and receipt of an entire trailer of inventory in as little as 30 minutes instead of hours;
– New, high-end graphically oriented computer systems for employees to use while fulfilling orders for customers.

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Apple Tops List of World’s Most Innovative Companies


Apple continues to be proof that spending more on research and development doesn’t necessarily make you more of an innovator in the technology space.

Apple ranked as the most innovative company in the world for the third year in a row, despite spending significantly less on R&D than most of its competitors, according to a report from Booz & Co., which surveyed nearly 700 executives worldwide to rank the most innovative companies in multiple industries.

The Cupertino company was deemed one of the three most innovative companies by 80% of those surveyed, up from 70% in a similar survey the previous year and well above the 43% of respondents who said the same about Google, the next most innovative tech company on the list.

Since the last time the survey was conducted, Apple has gone through some big changes — most notably, the loss of its visionary former CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs. It has also grown to become the most valuable company in the world by market cap. However, neither of these factors appear to have changed Apple’s approach to R&D spending or its perception as an innovator.

Apple spent $2.4 billion on research and development in 2011, or 2.2% of its total sales revenue. The company recently revealed that it spent $3.4 billion on R&D in 2012, which still works out to be the same 2.2% of sales given Apple’s growth. By comparison, Google spent $2.2 billion on R&D in 2011, or 13.6% of its sales and Microsoft spent $9 billion on R&D in 2011, or about 13% of sales.

“There is no long-term correlation between the amount of money a company spends on its innovation efforts and its overall financial performance,” Booz writes in its report. “Instead, what matters is how companies use that money and other resources, as well as the quality of their talent, processes, and decision making.”

The top 10 list was dominated by tech companies, including Apple, Google, Microsoft and Samsung. Amazon, another tech company, made its first appearance in the top 10, displacing another tech company, Facebook, which was the 10th most innovative company on last year’s list.

There is value to being one of the top innovators, besides just the title. As Booz points out in the report, “The 10 most innovative companies handily outperformed the top 10 spenders on R&D on several financial metrics — market cap growth, revenue growth, and earnings as a percentage of revenues (after normalizing for industry variations).”

Here is a breakdown of the 10 most innovative companies on the list and how much each spends on research and development:

Innovative Companies Chart

Image courtesy of Flickr, Dennis Goedegebuure.

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3 Ways to Simplify Your Offline Errands


Not being home during business hours is normal, but it can be terribly inconvenient for certain errands. At a time when technology is burgeoning and a large chunk of commerce is done online, it seems like the convenience of online services is wasted once you have to deal with offline nuisances, such as needing to pick up your order from a package facility or rushing to the dry cleaners on your lunch break.

Check out three companies trying to tackle the problem of running errands with city-focused, high-tech solutions.

1. Picking Up Packages With Amazon Lockers

If you worry about a package sitting at your doorstep all day, if you live in an apartment building without a package room or if your service redirects packages to a facility when you aren’t home, ordering items can be more trouble than it’s worth.

You may have found ways around this, such as getting packages delivered to work, etc., but Amazon‘s locker option is a surefire way to know exactly where your package is delivered, and it allows you to easily pick it up whenever you want to.

“Amazon Lockers are self-service pick-up stations located in local neighborhoods,” an Amazon spokesperson told Mashable. “When customers ship Amazon orders to an Amazon Locker, they can pick up their packages at a time and place that’s convenient for them.”

When you reach checkout on your Amazon order, you can choose to have your package delivered directly to a locker at a participating location: supermarkets, convenience stores, 7-Elevens and more. The Amazon Lockers system doesn’t work for very large packages, but you’ll know if your order is eligible for the service before you check out.

Once your package is delivered, you receive an email notification with a special six-digit code and the hours of the business where the lockers are located. When you go to pick up your package, you can type in your code on the touchscreen, and the locker containing your package will open.

Don’t worry if you can’t get to your locker right away. Your package will be kept there for five days, and if you can’t pick it up by then, it will be returned for a full refund.

This shipping feature is currently available for residents of Seattle, New York City, Washington, D.C., and London, but other sets of Amazon Lockers have been popping up in other locations, so keep your eyes open for one in your area.

2. Dry Cleaning With DashLocker

DashLocker Dry CleaningDry cleaning is a useful service for your expensive or delicate clothes, which would be ruined if washed with regular soap and water. But as necessary as this service may be for certain fabrics, the dry cleaning process is unnecessarily inconvenient, whether you’re picking up, dropping off or waiting for home delivery.

For that reason, certain companies have assimilated a locker system into their business models, allowing customers to pick up and drop off their dry cleaning when it’s convenient for them. New York City-based company DashLocker, however, has built its business model around this locker system, and it has a deeper commitment to using technology.

“Dry cleaning still operates on the hours and terms of the dry cleaner, not the customer,” says Bob Hennessy, founder and CEO of DashLocker. “No business can survive in the age of Yelp or TaskRabbit with that kind of service. What DashLocker does with ease is provide customers around-the-clock access to their items — including Sundays and late overnight. By enabling easy access to a secure facility, and backing the service up with highly functional technology, we believe we’re able to make dry cleaning as seamless a chore as withdrawing $40 from the ATM.”

Hennessy says most of DashLocker’s competitors try to use lockers as a way to increase volume in facilities they currently own and operate, which means it’s more of a convenience for existing customers than for potential customers. DashLocker’s dedication to technology sets it apart from the competition.

“We bar-code and photograph each item of dry cleaning we receive. This makes the identification of garments much easier in busy, crowded plants that often have thousands of items circulating at any given time. These photographs are automatically uploaded to customer accounts, and can be viewed instantaneously, since the software we run is web-based,” he explains.

DashLocker’s use of technology will be further amplified by the introduction of the company’s mobile app sometime within the next few months.

So how does the service actually work? Once customers register online, they can drop off their clothes at a DashLocker location, securing them with a special PIN code. Their clothes are returned between 24 and 36 hours in a bar-coded bag that allows for direct billing to customers’ credit cards. Customers are notified via text when their dry cleaning is ready.

It’s also part of DashLocker’s mission to employ green, earth-friendly technology. The company’s dry cleaning partner, Ken Kinzer of Bridgestone Cleaners, operates GreenEarth dry cleaning machines, which use liquid silicone, just like many shampoos, conditioners and lotions. Hennessy described liquid silicone as “basically liquefied sand, and when broken down it deteriorates into sand, water and carbon dioxide — natural elements whose exposure doesn’t put anyone at risk.” For wash and fold services, DashLocker uses Vaska brand products, a green detergent certified as “natural” by the EPA. In fact, Vaska product is safe to drink, although it’s not exactly delicious. These products replace typical perchloroethylene (or “perc”), which is a harmful chemical that’s banned in California.

In between drop-off and pick-up, DashLocker ships the clothes via truck to Bridgestone in DUMBO, Brooklyn, which is an issue of sustainability that the DashLocker team struggles with at this stage in the company’s development.

“Right now our volumes don’t justify building a dedicated plant for ourselves,” Hennessy explains. “They justify focusing on sales, tightening our operational processes and ensuring the mid- to long-term health of the company. This requires the use of wholesale vendors who can do our cleaning for us. Since our commitment is to use GreenEarth, as we believe it to be the best green solution on the market, we are in a bit of bind from a geography standpoint.”

Hennessy added, “We feel strongly that by moving away from perc, we’ve answered the most critical green question, and that in time (hopefully very quickly), we will have the ability to move all of our processes in-house to further shrink our carbon footprint.”

Amid fast-paced city living, DashLocker allows customers to easily integrate dry cleaning into their daily routines. “We’re focused on a few key initiatives, all three of which are, unfortunately, somewhat foreign to the dry cleaning industry: customer service, accountability and round-the-clock convenience,” Hennessy says.

The DashLocker team is trying to take a methodical approach to its expansion, and Hennessy hopes the company serves every neighborhood in Manhattan by the end of 2013.

3. Personal Assistance With Zaarly

It might take a lot to admit that you can’t do everything on your to-do list, but the truth is, everyone needs a little help once in a while.

When you can’t find a service that caters to your specific needs, Zaarly can help you fill in the gaps. Using the site, you can post and ask for just about anything. All you need to do is type in the items or services you’re looking for and wait to receive offers from people in your area.

Need someone to organize a party? Zaarly can help you hire a temporary event planner. Want someone to handle tedious tasks on a busier-than-normal workday? Find a one-time personal assistant. Zaarly users looking for work in your community will offer their services, and you can choose the best offer. You’re not obligated to accept any offers if you don’t like them; if you’re not willing to pay a certain amount, you can move on.

The best thing about Zaarly is that there’s no task too small to ask for, as long as someone’s willing to do it. So, if you’re swamped at work but need to get some toiletries before the store closes, go ahead and use Zaarly to hire someone to run to the drugstore to make your day a little easier.

Which errands do you take care of through technology? Let us know in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, iPandastudio

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