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The latest news from Business Insider

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    cruise gm self-driving car

    • DoorDash is partnering with General Motors' Cruise autonomous-vehicles unit to deliver food and groceries.
    • The test is starting in the San Francisco area, the companies announced on Thursday. 
    • Self-driving cars have been a growing presence in the food and grocery delivery business.

    Your DoorDash delivery may soon be arriving via self-driving car. 

    On Thursday, DoorDash announced it is partnering with General Motors' Cruise autonomous-vehicles unit to deliver food and groceries. The program will kick off early this year in the San Francisco area. 

    "We see autonomous vehicles playing a major role in the future of delivery as consumer behaviors continue to shift online, and we are confident Cruise's leading technology will help us scale to meet growing consumer demand," Tony Xu, CEO of DoorDash, said in a statement. 

    Read more:Starbucks is rolling out delivery at roughly 2,000 stores across the US as customers ditch old-school cafés

    For now, a DoorDash delivery person will be present in the self-driving car and bring the groceries or meal to the doorstep. In the future, customers will be able to decide between picking up a delivery from the curb or via a fully autonomous delivery system. 

    The partnership is starting with one merchant and one vehicle, with plans to add more cars and merchants in the future. 

    Self-driving cars have been a growing presence in the food and grocery delivery business. Ford and Postmates announced plans to collaborate on a self-driving delivery service last June. Kroger partnered with robotics-company Nuro to deliver groceries in Scottsdale, Arizona. Domino's began testing self-driving cars in 2017. 

    SEE ALSO: Coca-Cola is debuting its new bottled water via the 'Costco for millennials' as Amazon tries to ditch water and other 'CRaP' products

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Almost 80% of the textbook industry is dominated by 5 publishing companies that make books so expensive most students skip buying them


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    bii voice app skills growth over time

    This is a preview of a research report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about Business Insider Intelligence, click here.

    The voice app ecosystem is booming. In the US, the number of Alexa skills alone surpassed 25,000 in January 2018, up from just 7,000 the previous January, in categories ranging from music streaming services, to games, to connected home tools.

    As voice platforms continue to gain footing in homes via smart speakers — connected devices powered primarily by artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled voice assistants — the opportunity for voice apps is becoming more profound. However, as observed with the rise of mobile apps in the late 2000s, any new digital ecosystem will face significant growing pains, and voice apps are no exception. Thanks to the visual-free format of voice apps, discoverability, monetization, and retention are proving particularly problematic in this nascent space. This is creating a problem in the voice assistant market that could hinder greater uptake if not addressed.

    In this report, Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, explores the two major viable voice app stores. It identifies the three big issues voice apps are facing — discoverability, monetization, and retention — and presents possible short-term solutions ahead of industry-wide fixes.

    Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

    • The market for smart speakers and voice platforms is expanding rapidly. The installed base of smart speakers and the volume of voice apps that can be accessed on them each saw significant gains in 2017. But the new format and the emerging voice ecosystems that are making their way into smart speaker-equipped homes is so far failing to align with consumer needs. 
    • Voice app development is a virtuous cycle with several broken components. The addressable consumer market is expanding, which is prompting more brands and developers to developer voice apps, but the ability to monetize and iterate those voice apps is limited, which could inhibit voice app growth. 
    • Monetization is only one broken component of the voice app ecosystem. Discoverability and user retention are equally problematic for voice app development. 
    • While the two major voice app ecosystems — Amazon's and Google's — have some Band-Aid solutions and workarounds, their options for improving monetization, discoverability, and retention for voice apps are currently limited.
    • There are some strategies that developers and brands can employ in the near term ahead of more robust tools and solutions.

    In full, the report:

    • Sizes the current voice app ecosystem. 
    • Outlines the most pressing problems in voice app development and evolution in the space by examining the three most damning shortcoming: monetization, discoverability, and retention. 
    • Discusses the solutions being offered up by today's biggest voice platforms. 
    • Presents workaround solutions and alternative approaches that could catalyze development and evolution ahead of wider industry-wide fixes from the platforms.

    Subscribe to an All-Access pass to Business Insider Intelligence and gain immediate access to:

    This report and more than 250 other expertly researched reports
    Access to all future reports and daily newsletters
    Forecasts of new and emerging technologies in your industry
    And more!
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    Purchase & download the full report from our research store

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    180418_Yard_Media_Day 9 The Ocean Cleanup

    • More than 320 million metric tons of plastic are produced every year, with much of it accumulating in oceans.
    • At age 16, Dutch innovator Boyan Slat set out to tackle the problem.   
    • Slat proposed an idea for a massive cleanup device that would collect plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a trash-filled vortex that's more than twice the size of Texas.
    • The cleanup tool was recently deployed in the Pacific Ocean, but began spilling the plastic it had collected.
    • Slat said he's confident that the device will be successful, but some critics remain skeptical.

    The road to success hasn't been easy for 24-year-old Boyan Slat, the founder of The Ocean Cleanup, a startup determined to rid the oceans of massive amounts of harmful plastic.

    Slat, a Dutch innovator, came up with his concept for removing garbage from the ocean at age 16, and he's been refining the idea ever since. 

    His system is designed to collect plastic using the ocean's current. The technology remains largely unproven, even after initial tests showed promise. 

    Read more:The massive ocean cleanup device invented by a 24-year-old is spilling plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

    The endeavor has been heavily scrutinized by the scientific community, with some scientists worrying that the cleanup tool could harm marine wildlife or be broken up by harsh ocean conditions.

    But if all goes according to plan, the device could remove half the plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — a trash-filled vortex in the Pacific Ocean that is more than twice as large as Texas — within five years.

    Take a look at Slat's journey. 

    2010: Slat decides to fight plastic in the ocean after going scuba-diving in Greece.

    Slat, who was 16 at the time, previously told Business Insider that he saw more plastic bags than fish during the diving trip.

    After returning to school, Slat watched a presentation that explained how currents take garbage from all around the world and bring it together in giant patches. (The Coriolis force, a phenomenon caused by Earth's rotation, accumulates this debris.)

    These gyres of trash can be found all over the world, but the north Pacific gyre — located between Hawaii and California — is the biggest concentration of garbage in Earth's waters. Slat said he wondered if the same forces that gather marine debris could be used to take the trash out of the ocean.

     



    2012: Slat appears in a TEDx talk explaining his plan to remove trash from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

    The TEDx talk proposed a radical idea: that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch could completely clean itself in five years. Charles Moore, who discovered the Patch, previously estimated that it would take 79,000 years. 

    Slat said his proposed system would use ocean currents to passively collect plastic instead of actively hunting for trash in the waters. 



    February 2013: The Ocean Cleanup officially launches, a month before the TEDx talk goes viral.

    Though Slat's TEDx talk didn't immediately take off, he continued to pursue the idea while studying aerospace engineering at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.

    After six months of college, Slat dropped out and launched The Ocean Cleanup with just $340 from his savings. 

    Around the same time, his TEDx talk went viral, and his company gained new momentum. 

     



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Andrew Cuomo

    • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Thursday that New York City's L train will not shut down for 15 months. 
    • The city had planned to close the subway line, which runs between Brooklyn and Manhattan, for 15 months beginning in April to repair two tunnels that run beneath the East River.
    • Twitter users expressed divided opinions over reports of the announcement.

     

    New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Thursday that New York City's L train will not shut down for 15 months. The New York Times first reported the planned announcement. 

    Read more: New York's Cuomo is killing a plan that would shut down an entire subway line for 15 months and leave hundreds of thousands struggling to find transportation

    The city had planned to close the subway line, which runs between Brooklyn and Manhattan, for 15 months beginning in April to repair two tunnels that run beneath the East River. The tunnels received serious damage during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

    The shutdown would have made life difficult for the hundreds of thousands of people who rely on it, as the L line serves a number of commuters who don't have many convenient alternatives.

    Using a new technology that has been used in Europe for tunnel construction — but never in the US and never for a tunnel reconstruction — a complete closure will not be necessary, Governor Cuomo said. Teams from Columbia and Cornell Universities' engineering schools toured the tunnel and proposed the new methods.

    Before the new announcement, the city's transit agency, the MTA, has been scrambling to figure out how to transport the line's 250,000 daily commuters on buses and connecting subway lines. Experts were projecting crippling congestion on the Williamsburg Bridge, and even more packed trains on the few other options for the North Brooklyn neighborhood.

    The impending transit emergency caused rents to drop in affected neighborhoods, many of which as much as a 45 minute walk away from other trains. Luxury buildings along the waterfront even announced plans for shuttles to Manhattan and other subway lines. Even more audacious hopefuls proposed things like a tram across the river or a floating pontoon bridge.

    "This is the shortest, best route to the rebuilding of the tunnel," Cuomo said.

    Twitter users expressed divided opinions over reports of the announcement. Some said they were excited by it, while others suggested the announcement would be most beneficial to landlords.

    "The L train is not shutting down? This is major news, especially for us the M trainers. Rejoice y’all!" one Twitter user said.

    "Congrats to North Williamsburg and Greenpoint landlords on the reversal of the L train shutdown, it's always good to see the little guys win one," another said.

    Here's what people are saying on Twitter.

     

     

    SEE ALSO: A marijuana tax could help fix New York's crumbling subway system

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Craig Jackson of Barrett-Jackson Auction Company has one of the world's most expensive private garages — take a look inside


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    The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider may receive a commission from The Points Guy Affiliate Network.

    45228731_10156146965992852_4420358844731883520_o

    • When American Express launched its new American Express® Gold Card in October, it also introduced a special, limited-edition rose gold version of the card. 
    • The new design — the regular version of the new Gold Card is a metallic gold — comes in addition to competitive rewards on restaurants and supermarkets in the US, airfare, and more.
    • You can request the rose gold card if you're a new applicant, or currently hold AmEx's previous version of the card, the Premier Rewards Gold. 
    • However, the rose gold version is only available until January 9.
    • New cardholders can also get a unique, limited-time welcome bonus if they apply before the same date.
    • Here's what you need to know about the AmEx Gold Card.

    When American Express reintroduced its Gold Card this fall, the card got a fantastic set of improvements to its rewards earning scheme and suite of benefits.

    As part of the overhaul, AmEx unveiled a new chic, gold-colored metal version of the card, similar to the Platinum Card's design. AmEx also introduced a limited-edition rose gold variation of the card — it was so popular that AmEx encountered shipping delays.

    Current and new users are able request either the regular or the rose gold card. However, the latter option goes away on January 9.

    That means that this is the last chance to get the rose gold version of the card.

    Also going away January 9: a unique limited-time bonus for new members. If you don't have the Gold Card and open one by then, AmEx will "pick up the tip" when you dine out. During the first three months, new card members will get 20% back on US restaurant charges — in the form of a statement credit — up to $100 total.

    Learn more:Amex is issuing a limited-edition rose gold version of its brand-new Gold Card — here's how to request one in 5 minutes

    That's in addition to the standard welcome bonus of 25,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $2,000 in the first three months. Some people may be targeted for a higher bonus.

    The new Gold Card earns 4x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent at US restaurants, as well as on the first $25,000 spent each calendar year at US supermarkets (and 1x point after that). It also earns 3x points on flights booked directly through the airline, and 1x point on everything else.

    That makes it among the most competitive cards for restaurants and supermarkets in the US — since it's possible to get more than 1¢ of value for each Membership Rewards point, the value is more than 4% back.

    Learn more: AmEx Platinum cardholders can potentially get the $200 airline fee credit twice in their first year — here's how

    The Gold Card features several other benefits, too. Cardholders can get up to $120 in dining credits a year — split into $10 chunks each month — when they use their cards to order food through Grubhub or Seamless, or at The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Chris Steak House, and participating Shake Shack locations. That's in addition to a $100 airline fee credit each calendar year.

    The card's annual fee is $250, but between the annual credits and the rewards, it should be easy to earn enough value to more than make up for that.

    Click here to learn more about the American Express Gold Card from Insider Picks' partner: The Points Guy.

    SEE ALSO: The AmEx Platinum is available to active duty servicemembers at no annual fee — but even with the fee, the credit card is a great value

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    stressed working computer laptop night

    • Working night hours or even the occasional night shift can potentially have an impact on your health, even though you may not have realized that it could.
    • Working at night can potentially impact your blood pressure, heart health, risk of having a stroke, or menstrual cycle. 
    • From exercising regularly to being consistent with your nighttime shifts, there are a number of things that experts suggest mitigates the impact that working night hours can have on your health.

    Whether you do so often or occasionally, working night shifts can certainly impact the way that you sleep. But the impact it can have on your health goes way beyond your sleep schedule. Working night hours have been tied to both mental and physical side effects. Of course, experts say there are ways to manage these potential side effects.

    Whether you work night shifts exclusively or only every so often, here's what you need to know about how working at night can potentially impact your health.

    You can end up with sleep disorders.

    Most of the time, these sleep issues look very similar to other sorts of sleep issues.

    "They call it 'shift-work sleep disorder,' so basically anytime someone is having symptoms of insomnia or symptoms of excessive sleepiness that happen in relation to them working at night or having these weird, off-work schedules,"Dr. Cedrina L. Calder, MD, a preventive medicine physician, told INSIDER. "So [it] would just be just a normal sleep disorder but it would be related to the type of work that they're doing."

    Doing your best to get the rest you need, minimizing light during the day when you need to be sleeping, and generally taking care of yourself can help, Dr. Rick Pescatore, DO, FAAEM, an emergency medicine physician and the director of clinical research at Crozer-Keystone Health System, told INSIDER. 



    It could impact your digestive health.

    If you sometimes work at night, you may likely end up eating meals at times that aren't considered the norm or times your body isn't used to. You could also be eating a different amount than usual or perhaps you might be eating a bit less healthily than you otherwise would. Because of this, you could end up dealing with constipation, weight gain, indigestion, and more, said Calder. 

     



    You may feel socially isolated.

    If you work at night and all of your friends and family members work (or are awake) during the day, it can make you feel a bit more isolated than you otherwise would feel, which may not be good for your mental health. Calder said that being left out from those social activities in which you'd otherwise partake can potentially lead to depression and irritability.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Tim Cook.JPG

    • Apple sent shockwaves through global markets on Wednesday with its first earnings warning in 16 years.
    • The firm had a shopping list of issues to pin blame on, but Wall Street bankers and analysts told Business Insider that some problems are of its own making.
    • The company is more exposed to troubles in China than other tech firms, and has yet to find a product that can be the iPhone's successor.
    • Some on Wall Street say this means its business as usual — not everyone in tech is exposed to the same market forces as Apple.
    • Other analysts think it could signal that the best days of growth are over for consumer tech.

    Apple began 2019 with a bang — and not the good kind.

    The iPhone maker sent shockwaves through global markets on Wednesday with its first earnings warning in 16 years, tanking its stock by 9% on Thursday.

    Apple cautioned investors that its first-quarter revenue will be closer to $84 billion, rather than the potential $93 billion it originally forecast. 

    The firm had a whole shopping list of issues to pin blame on, some of which are problems of its own making, according to four experts who spoke to Business Insider. 

    Take its troubles in China. Apple said a slowdown in the Chinese economy has hit iPhone, Mac, and iPad sales, and been made a whole lot worse by US President Donald Trump's trade war.

    Apple is acutely exposed in China, but not everyone runs the same risk

    Unlike other tech firms, Apple is acutely exposed in China, said David Willard, CEO of 52 Capital Partners, a strategic advisory firm that specializes in US/China transactions.

    "Apple, among major technology companies, is seriously all in," he added. This means Apple is a bit of a canary in a coal mine. It is the most at risk in China, though others could be hurt by similar dynamics down the road, he said.

    Ted Smith, a partner and president at Union Square Advisors, agreed, though emphasized that there's little indication that the fourth quarter will be bad for companies across the tech sector.

    "Apple is uniquely penetrated in China, and they're exposed to it on multiple fronts," he said.

    trump china

    For Apple, this means that when China's economic growth slows levels last seen during the global financial crisis, its supply chain and sales start hurting. When you layer on top a trade war, rumoured boycotts of Apple products, and iPhone saturation, and it's easy to see how Apple may be hit harder than other US companies doing business in China.

    Other blue-chip tech stocks, like enterprise players Salesforce and IBM, aren't as dependant on these revenue sources, so such dynamics probably won't show up in their quarterly earnings.

    Apple's earnings warning was also another reminder we are close hitting peak iPhone, or as Goldman Sachs put it: "The company is approaching maximum market penetration."

    This, of course, is a broader trend in the smartphone sector. People are happy with what they've got, and upgrading to a newer, more expensive device seems much less appealing. But it does point to bigger structural questions for Apple CEO Tim Cook, according to market watchers.

    Read more: 'Apple's darkest day in the iPhone era': Here's what Wall Street is saying about Apple's bombshell profit warning

    "The smartphone has matured and become a bit boring. There is a limit to what you can do to get people excited about a new iPhone," said James Cordwell, a tech analyst at Atlantic Equities.

    "Not only has Tim Cook got to produce a great second act [after Steve Jobs' iPhone], but it has to be needle moving. He has been successful with new products like Apple Watch, but unfortunately for Apple, they have not been needle moving."

    Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at trading broker Think Markets, put it more bluntly. "Tim Cook hasn't delivered any game-changing innovation since Steve jobs," he said. "If things continue like this, it will be only a matter of time before Apple becomes the new Nokia."                               

    Are the best days of growth over?

    The analysts were divided on whether Apple's woes will be reflected in the earnings of other companies, or contribute to dragging down the rest of the tech sector. 

    At the time of writing, Amazon, Facebook, and Google stocks were all in decline after Apple's earnings warning. Indeed, hundreds of billions of dollars have been scrubbed from the value of the FAANG companies since Apple fell from its $1.16 trillion high in October last year. Chip makers Qualcomm and Intel similarly suffered.

    But Union Square Advisors partner Smith, whose clients are concentrated in enterprise tech, doesn't think Apple will tank the wider economy. He said it was business as usual heading into Thursday — companies still have access to capital, and they're still eager to move forward with the M&A deals on the docket.

    "People are naturally a little cautious but nobody has said we're packing up and closing up business," he said. "I don't think we're at a point when Apple sneezes everyone else is going to catch a cold." 

    Mark Zuckerberg

    For Willard, the bigger question is how the US and China respond to the news that politics have severely impacted a bluechip company like Apple. If nothing changes diplomatically, he said, other tech companies may suffer financially in the long-term. 

    "This is macro-politics affecting the operating performance of major technology companies. This is not a reflection of the underlying value and world-class quality of Apple's business," he said. "This is episodic. There's a possibility it will be symptomatic of a trend, we'll have to wait and see."

    Cordwell, from Atlantic Equities, said Apple's bad start to 2019 risks exacerbating a wider fear dogging the consumer tech sector: "Are the best days of growth over?"

    He explained: "Amazon, Facebook, and Google have all reported weaker growth. Apple’s warning is only going to fuel further concern around consumer-orientated tech." The bigger growth, Cordwell added, could be in cloud-based tech and AI. 

    Think Market's Aslam said it could be the trigger that sets in motion the long-feared tech downturn. "There is so much pessimism in the market and the two main ingredients for this are: The trade war and sluggish growth over in China. I will not be surprised if in the upcoming earnings period, firms don't suffer because of this," he added.

    SEE ALSO: Apple's sweet talk about its $10.8 billion services business was totally undermined by Netflix

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: 7 science-backed ways to a happier and healthier 2019 that you can do the first week of the new year


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    Cuomo Canarsie Tunnel

    • New York City's "L Train" subway will not shut down for 15 months in April as previously planned.
    • Governor Andrew Cuomo said Thursday that a new technique that has been used in Europe — but never in the US — is being studied by Cornell and Columbia engineers, who made the recommendation. 
    • Cabling destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 was previously buried in concrete inside the tunnel. The new plan involves hanging those systems on the ceiling to be more accessible. 
    • Partial weekend shutdowns of one tube will likely still be necessary as repairs are underway. 

    New York Governor Andrew Cuomo made a surprise subway announcement on Thursday.

    One of New York City's most crowded subway lines connected Brooklyn and Manhattan will not shut down for 15 months as previously planned, and an alternative repair method will be used that can alleviate the transit headaches for 250,000 daily commuters who rely on it. 

    The L train, which connects far-flung parts of Brooklyn including the Rockaways and Canarsie to Manhattan via popular neighborhoods like Bushwick and Williamsburg, saw its two tunnels beneath the East River badly damaged in 2012 during Hurricane Sandy.

    Six years later, officials have said the tubes needed a complete closure beginning in April to repair damage from flooding, which inundated the tracks and corroded signals and other electrical equipment. 

    Using a new technology that has been used in Europe for tunnel construction — but never in the US and never for a tunnel reconstruction — a complete closure will not be necessary, Governor Cuomo said. Teams from Columbia and Cornell Universities' engineering schools toured the tunnel and proposed the new methods. 

    "The simple fact is you have roughly 250,000 people who would need another way to get to work, have a tremendous impact on traffic," Cuomo said at the press conference. "15 months sounds like a really short period of time, but it's not if you're doing it one day at a time trying to get to work."

    Before the new announcement, the city's transit agency, the MTA, had been scrambling alongside other government agencies like the Department of Transportation to figure out how to transport the line's 250,000 daily commuters on buses and connecting subway lines.

    Experts were projecting crippling congestion on the Williamsburg Bridge, and even more packed trains on the few other options for the North Brooklyn neighborhoods.

    The impending transit emergency caused rents to drop in affected neighborhoods, many of which as much as a 45 minute walk away from other trains. Luxury buildings along the waterfront even announced plans for shuttles to Manhattan and other subway lines. Even more audacious hopefuls proposed things like a tram across the river or a floating pontoon bridge.

    "This is the shortest, best route to the rebuilding of the tunnel," Cuomo said. 

    Why the hurricane damage was so catastrophic

    bench wall MTA l trainIt's very rare for a tunnel to be fully submerged in salt water, but that's exactly what Hurricane Sandy's massive storm surge did to the century-old tubes. 

    The salt water even infiltrated what's known as a bench wall, a concrete section of the circular tunnel that housed electrical cables and communications lines. That's why the repair is so work-intensive, the governor said. 

    "In new tunnels," Mary Boyce, Dean of Columbia University's School of Engineering, said at the press conference, "cables are not buried in the bench wall."

    To save money, those old cables will be abandoned in the old bench wall, which reduces demolition work and saves the platform to be used as an egress platform in case of emergency. Instead, cables will be "racked" on the side of the train tunnel, and thus more easily accessible, with the negative power return cable on the track bed for grounding. 

    After studying new tunnels in London, Hong Kong, Riyadh and more, the group recommended the new technology which can use the same confined space more efficiently than previous designs. 

    "This decoupling has never been done before," Governor Cuomo said. 

    Here's the complete list of the group's recommendations:

    L Train recommendations

    "This positions New York to be a leader in  infrastructure," Boyce said. "This gives us that opportunity to be innovative and really do the right, next, new thing for the long term."

    Now read:

    SEE ALSO: New York's governor just killed a plan to shut down one of the most crowded subway lines in NYC — and people are freaking out

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: These bespoke metal cars take 2,000 hours to make by hand — see the step-by-step process


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    caroline bradner

    • 22-year-old Caroline Bradner was paralyzed by Guillain Barré Syndrome (GBS), a rare autoimmune disease, while teaching in Thailand.
    • GBS is curable with the right treatment. Bradner's family has been trying to get her home.
    • After the family raised more than $70,000 on GoFundMe, Bradner's travel insurance company agreed to pay for her flight back. The family said funds would go toward treatment and autoimmune research.

    The family of a 22-year-old woman is frantically trying to get her home after she was struck by a sudden illness that left her paralyzed.

    Caroline Bradner spent two months teaching students English in Thailand after graduating from the University of Mississippi. On December 22, she woke up unable to move, her brother Pierce wrote in a GoFundMe post.

    After a friend called an ambulance and sent her to a hospital, Bradner was diagnosed with Guillain Barré Syndrome (GBS), a rare autoimmune disease that can cause severe paralysis, but is usually cured with the right treatment, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes.

    "Caroline has been going through treatments to help her condition," Pierce Bradner wrote on GoFundMe. "She is improving, but is still paralyzed and it looks like this will be a long recovery, lasting from months to years."

    In the weeks since, Bradner's family has been trying to make travel arrangements to get her back home, so she could be treated by specialists at the Virginia Commonwealth University medical center in Richmond, Virginia. Traveling would require flying with a nurse, which could cost thousands of dollars, but Bradner's medical and travel insurances denied her claims.

    But after social media attention — and after the family's GoFundMe raised more than its $70,000 goal for a flight and Bradner's care — her travel insurance company agreed to cover the costs of her flying back home. On Wednesday, Bradner's brother wrote that the funds would be used for her rehabilitation, and leftovers would be donated to a foundation that studies GBS.

    "CAROLINE IS COMING HOME!! Because of this community and your support the travel insurance company has looked at the case again and has agreed to get Caroline home,"Pierce Bradner wrote on Facebook. "Thank you so much to everyone who has supported our efforts. We are so so grateful to have you all in our lives."

    Visit INSIDER's homepage for more.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: I'm a diehard iPhone user who switched to Android for a week — here's what I loved and hated about the Google Pixel 3 XL


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    As consumers increasingly turn to e-commerce for all their shopping needs, speedy fulfillment isn’t just a “nice to have” — it’s the expectation of every online shopping experience. And if logistics companies and their retail partners want a shot at thwarting the ever-looming threat of Amazon Prime, it needs to be a priority.

    last mile share of delivery costs

    As a result, businesses have begun racing to develop new technologies and experimental supply chain models to increase parcel volume, expedite deliveries, and delight customers — all while trying to cut costs. Unfortunately, one of their biggest expenses and challenges is same-day, last mile shipping.

    In a new report from Business Insider Intelligence, we take a look at shipping logistics, the last mile problem, and how companies can adapt to the new challenges of e-commerce shipping. Read on to learn some of the highlights of this increasingly prevalent disruption.

    What is last mile delivery?

    In a product’s journey from warehouse shelf to customer doorstep, the “last mile” of delivery is the final step of the process — the point at which the package finally arrives at the buyer’s door. In addition to being a key to customer satisfaction, last mile delivery is both the most expensive and time-consuming part of the shipping process.

    What is the last mile problem?

    If you’ve ever tracked a package online and saw that it was “out for delivery” for what felt like forever, you already understand that the last mile problem is inefficiency. That’s because the final leg of shipment typically involves multiple stops with low drop sizes.

    In rural areas, delivery points along a particular route could be several miles apart, with only one or two packages getting dropped off at each one. In cities, the outlook isn’t much better; what urban areas make up for in stop proximity is quickly negated by the near constant delays of traffic congestion.

    The costs and inefficiencies of the last mile problem have only been further compounded by the continuous rise of e-commerce in US retail sales, which has dramatically increased the number of parcels delivered each day, as well as raised customer expectations to include not just fast, but also free, delivery.

    What are the costs of last mile delivery?

    As a share of the total cost of shipping, last mile delivery costs are substantial — comprising 53% overall. And with the growing ubiquitousness of “free shipping,” customers are less willing to foot a delivery fee, forcing retailers and logistics partners to shoulder the cost. As such, it’s become the first place they’re looking to implement new technologies and drive process improvements.

    Technology solutions to improve last mile logistics

    With the rise of the gig economy, many consumers are already familiar with the concept of crowdsourcing local services through digital platforms like Uber, Airbnb, and Postmates. Location-based crowdsourcing allows consumers to open a mobile app to hail a ride, book a place to stay, order coffee to the office, hire a handyman to mount a TV, send flowers to that special someone, or even schedule takeout to arrive just as they’re walking through their apartment door.

    Postmates_Anywhere

    The crowdsourcing model has been prevalent in transportation, hospitality, and food delivery for some time now, and retailers are eyeing its low startup costs, asset-light operations, and improved customer experience to ease their last mile delivery woes.

    With crowdsource technology, retailers, logistics partners, and consumers can connect directly with local, non-professional couriers who use their own transportation to make deliveries. Companies can get their online orders to customers faster, and customers can get their items when and where they want them. The freedom to make on-demand and scheduled deliveries also ensures that customers are home at the time of delivery — eliminating the need for a second (or third) attempt.

    And with the ongoing integration and enhancement of automation across industries, it’s likely we’ll start seeing delivery robots, drones, and self-driving vehicles making many of these drop-offs in the not-so-far future.

    Explore last mile logistics challenges, solutions and trends

    Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service,  has written a detailed report on crowdsourced delivery that:

    • Details the factors driving investment and growth in crowdsourced delivery startups.
    • Examines the benefits and drawbacks of using crowdsourcing to deliver online orders.
    • Explains how crowdsourced delivery startups can improve their cost efficiencies to tackle greater delivery volumes
    • Explores the role that crowdsourcing will play in the future of delivery once automated delivery options, like drones and robots, arrive.

    Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

    • Retailers are looking for ways to deliver goods faster to consumers' doorsteps to stave off Amazon's threat and meet customer expectations.
    • To accomplish that, retailers and delivery providers are zeroing in on the "last mile" of fulfillment, the most expensive and time-consuming part of the delivery process, which is when a package reaches the customer's address.
    • Startups like Postmates, Instacart, and others are looking to disrupt the last mile delivery space by leveraging the "Uber model," and connecting businesses to non-professional couriers who can deliver goods instantly.
    • Crowdsourcing can drastically speed up deliveries in urban areas, where there is a high density of deliveries and potential couriers to be matched.
    • However, as delivery volumes increase, crowdsourced delivery startups will need to further optimize their deliveries to improve cost efficiencies.
    • Many of the deliveries these startups perform today will likely be automated in the future, raising the possibility that these startups may eventually look to incorporate new technologies like delivery drones or self-driving delivery vehicles. 

    Subscribe to an All-Access pass to Business Insider Intelligence and gain immediate access to:

    This report and more than 250 other expertly researched reports
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    The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

    dermstore

    From the popularization of 10-step Korean skincare routines to beauty tools like facial rollers, skincare products had a major moment in 2018 — and there's no sign these trends are slowing down any time soon.

    Whether you've been keeping up with the latest in serums and masks for the past year or you're just starting to get curious about what all of these products actually do, the start of 2019 is a great time to pick up some new products and set yourself up for skincare success. 

    If getting seriously glowing skin is one of your 2019 goals, start here. Dermstore is one of our favorite spots to pick up high-quality skincare products, beauty, and makeup.

    Right now, Dermstore is having a New Year Sale where you can score up to 20% off on select products. Just use the code "SILVER" at checkout to get these savings and move one step closer to your best skin yet.

    If you're looking for some inspiration, we already checked out the sale and found plenty of deals on great products that target many skincare concerns.

    Keep reading for 21 great deals to get your skin glowing at Dermastore's New Year Sale:

    A setting powder made with skin-friendly, cruelty-free ingredients for a bright, even complexion

    Glo Skin Beauty Perfecting Powder, $30.40 (Originally $38) [You save $7.60]



    A gentle cleanser packed with essential oils and vitamins to keep skin clean and hydrated

    This Works Clean Skin Gentle Cleanser, $28 (Originally $35) [You save $7]



    A clarifying toner that eliminates impurities and keeps oily skin at bay

    Babor Cleansing CP Tonic, $25.60 (Originally $32) [You save $6.40]



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    cheesy bacon fries

    • McDonald's will be launching Cheesy Bacon Fries by January 30, according to internal documents viewed by Business Insider. 
    • The cheese-covered fries are intended to encourage customers to consider purchasing fries as a snack as well as boost traffic. 
    • Kalinowski Equity Research picked McDonald's as one of its top two restaurant stocks of 2019, in part due to excitement over the Cheesy Bacon Fries launch. 

    McDonald's upcoming Cheesy Bacon Fries launch has the potential to be a massive win for the fast-food giant. 

    Mark Kalinowski of Kalinowski Equity Research chose McDonald's as one of his top two restaurant stocks for 2019. Kalinowski is optimistic about the fast-food giant's potential due to its same-store sales compared to rivals, international possibilities, future-centric game plan — and cheese fries. 

    "We are also excited to see what the nationwide (U.S.) launch of Cheesy Bacon Fries in early 2019 might do for McDonald's U.S., particularly if sales of that item turn out to be solid after initial customer trial," Kalinowski wrote. 

    In December, Business Insider broke the news that McDonald's would be taking the bacon-topped dish national. Internal documents viewed by Business Insider indicate that the limited-time offering is set to launch in late January, though the company declined to confirm its plans on Thursday. 

    Read more:Leaked photos reveal that McDonald's is rolling out its new cheesy bacon fries across the US

    The launch is intended to encourage customers to consider purchasing loaded fries as a snack — instead of just as a side — and to boost the number of customers visiting the chain, according to internal documents. 

    McDonald's has long sold cheesy fries in other countries, including Spain and Canada.

    The chain has tested different versions of cheese fries in the US for years, including a limited-time offer of a loaded-bacon-and-cheese basket of fries across four states in 2017. McDonald's locations in Hawaii and Northern California began selling the cheesy bacon fries in November.

    Loaded fries have been a hot topic in the fast-food industry. In 2018, Taco Bell debuted nacho fires in the US, selling more than 53 million orders during the limited-time offering's original run from late January to April. Carl's Jr. and Wendy's are also among the chains that have added cheesy fries to the menu in recent years. 

    SEE ALSO: LEAKED: McDonald's is debuting a new menu item as the fast-food breakfast battle heats up

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    WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 02: House Speaker designate Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) talks to journalists following a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and fellow members of Congress about border security at the White House January 02, 2019 in Washington, DC. Trump and House Democrats are no closer to a deal on funding for Trump’s border wall and reopening parts of the federal government that have been shuttered for the past 12 days. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

    • Nancy Pelosi became speaker of the House again on Thursday.
    • She becomes one of just a few lawmakers to serve as speaker in two, non-consecutive Congresses. 
    • Pelosi takes over the House majority while the government remains in a partial shutdown.

    WASHINGTON — Democrats elected Nancy Pelosi as speaker of the House on Thursday, placing her in the history books as one of only a few lawmakers to ever wield the gavel multiple times.

    Pelosi won the speakership with 220 votes, strictly along party lines. A handful of Democrats voted for other fellow members and most Republicans voted for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. She last served as speaker from 2007-2011.

    Read more: Nancy Pelosi says funding for Trump's 'immoral, ineffective, expensive' border wall is off the table

    Pelosi had previously been elected party leader in the House Democratic Caucus, a relatively easy feat. But in order to become speaker with the necessary 219 votes on the House floor, Pelosi used her skill to court Democrats on the fence about supporting and even turned dozens of members who had publicly opposed her on the campaign trail and in previous leadership elections.

    "I am particularly proud to be the woman Speaker of the House of this Congress, which marks 100 years of women winning the right to vote, as we serve with more than 100 women in the House of Representatives – the highest number in history," Pelosi said in a floor speech upon becoming speaker.

    She made a series of promises in the speech as well, pledging to tone down the hyper-partisanship that has plagued Washington for years.

    "We have no illusions that our work will be easy, that all of us in this chamber will always agree," Pelosi said. "But let each of us pledge that when we disagree, we will respect each other and we will respect the truth."

    "And I pledge that this Congress will be transparent, bipartisan and unifying; that we will seek to reach across the aisle in this Chamber and across the divisions in this great nation," she added.

    Pelosi also brought along a handful of high profile celebrity guests to view her speech, including singer Tony Bennett, Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart, and television and fashion personality Tim Gunn.

    Pelosi takes the reigns in the middle of a government shutdown

    As speaker, Pelosi will now be in a key position when negotiating with President Donald Trump and the Republican-led Senate as she takes over in the midst of a government shutdown quickly approaching the record for longest in history.

    In her speech, Pelosi addressed the shutdown, which brought Washington to a standstill over the Christmas holiday.

    "We will debate and advance good ideas no matter where they come from," she said. "And in that spirit, Democrats will be offering the Senate Republican appropriations legislation to re-open government later today — to meet the needs of the American people, to protect our borders, and to respect our workers."

    Pelosi has already drawn a hard line on Trump's key priority for reopening the government by not providing funding for the construction of a wall along the US-Mexico border. Instead, Pelosi has vowed to have the House pass a funding package on Thursday that would reopen the government and punt the issue of the Department of Homeland Security and any wall negotiations until February 8.

    But the White House has already come out against any plan as Trump is still demanding at least $5.6 billion for border security, with an emphasis on the wall.

    SEE ALSO: Trump and Democrats dig in their heels as the partial government shutdown extends into the new year with no end in sight

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    Mark Zuckerberg

    • Mark Zuckerberg stopped selling off his Facebook stock in the fourth quarter of 2018, according to a Bloomberg report on Thursday
    • The Facebook CEO said in September 2017 he would offload millions of shares to help fund he and his wife's philanthropic endeavors, but the stock sales halted when the company's stock began to take a plunge. 
    • The decision to cease the sale of his options amid the stock's recent decline is likely Zuckerberg protecting his majority stake in the company. 
    • In 2017, Zuckerberg said he could continue selling stock and maintain voting control for 20 years, but with Facebook falling 20% in the holiday quarter, that plan has been paused nearly 19 years early. 

    Mark Zuckerberg has stopped selling off his Facebook stock, according to a Bloomberg report on Thursday

    The 34-year-old CEO said in September 2017 that he would offload 35 to 75 million shares over 18 months to help fund he and his wife's philanthropic endeavors. 

    Since that pledge, he has sold 30.4 million shares amounting to around $5.6 billion but according to the report on Thursday, Zuckerberg didn't sell any shares in the fourth quarter of 2018. 

    During that holiday quarter, Facebook's stock price fell by 20%. A spokesperson for Facebook was not immediately available to comment.

    A 20-year mark missed by nearly 19

    The decision to halt the sale of his options amid the stock's recent declines is likely Zuckerberg protecting his majority stake in the company. 

    In 2017, just days before a Delaware trial was set between the CEO and stockholders, Zuckerberg dropped plans to alter Facebook's stock structure that would have protected his control of the company even if he sold off 99% of his shares for charitable reasons. 

    "At the time, I felt that this reclassification was the best way to do both of these things," Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page at the time, in regards maintaining control while selling his shares. "In fact, I thought it was the only way." 

    Read more:A power struggle between Facebook and investors just ended with Facebook dropping plans to issue non-voting shares

    With Facebook's stock performing so well at the time, however, Zuckerberg believed he could continue offloading his shares for many years and maintain power without having to revamp any internal structures. 

    "Over the past year and a half, Facebook's business has performed well and the value of our stock has grown to the point that I can fully fund our philanthropy and retain voting control of Facebook for 20 years or more," he wrote. 

    As Facebook traded around $132 on Thursday, down from a record high of over $218 last July, that 20 year period seems to have come to an end nearly 19 years early. 

     

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    Tim Cook Apple App Store

    • A number of major apps such as Netflix and Spotify are reportedly making moves to stop paying Apple's App Store fees.
    • If the trend continues, Apple might have to consider issuing an "Apple Tax" reform, according to Amit Daryanani, an analyst at RBC.
    • The App Store charges app developers 30% of their revenues from new sign-ups, and consumers have accused the tech giant of monopolizing the market for iPhone apps and causing them to pay more than they otherwise would.
    • Watch Apple trade live.

    Things may be going from bad to worse for Apple.

    On Wednesday, the tech giant slashed its first-quarter revenue forecast, citing an unexpected slump in iPhone sales. In a letter to investors, CEO Tim Cook at least partly attributed the weakness to a slowdown in China's economy amid trade frictions between the world's two largest economies.

    But that's not all. Apple's service business could also be under pressure. Now, a number of major apps such as Netflix and Spotify are reportedly making moves to stop paying Apple's App Store fees, which will likely trigger an 'Apple Tax' reform, RBC says.

    TechCrunch reported on Monday that Netflix, the App Store's top grossing app, has stopped new users from signing up and subscribing through its iOS app, thus avoiding the "Apple Tax." Currently, the Apple Store charges app developers 30% of their revenues from new sign-ups and 15% on subscription renewal.

    Netflix tested this in select international markets in August 2018, and has now ditched the iOS signup ability across all global markets, TechCrunch said. Markets Insider was unable to sign up for a new account on the Netflix app downloaded from Apple stores in the US.

    "While the near-term direct impact should be negligible (we estimate $250 million annual revenue impact) given the move only impacts new customers, there is a rising trend of major apps trying to avoid app store fees on both Android and iOS," said Amit Daryanani, an analyst at RBC.

    According to RBC, Spotify allows users to sign up outside of the App Store and Amazon does not let users buy media through its iOS app. Meanwhile, Epic Games, maker of Fortnite, launched its own gaming store for PCs and Mac, and plans to roll out its store for Android later in 2019. Epic Games' store takes a 12% cut from developers, which is lower than the 30% that Apple and Google charge.

    If the trend continues, Apple might have to consider issuing an 'Apple Tax' reform, according to Daryanani. But there are many factors at play with regard to the adjustment of App Store fees, he added.

    App Store guidelines prohibit apps from using alternate payment mechanisms, so Apple can bar apps that subvert this rule. But this punishment could probably only work for smaller apps as larger players usually have bigger bargaining power and seem to be getting away with bending the rules, Daryanani said.

    Also at stake is the prolonged litigation Apple faced at the Supreme Court. Justices are reviewing a lower-court ruling in favor of consumers' claims that the tech giant has monopolized the market for iPhone apps and has caused consumers to pay more than they would if it did not take a 30% cut of the sales price for apps.

    "An ongoing litigation at the Supreme Court would determine if consumers can sue AAPL for charging high prices through the App Store, which further increases risks for the App Store model," Daryanani said.

    So, a possible "Apple Tax" reform could be that Apple lowers App Store fees, or establishes a mechanism wherein it negotiates lower fees with large developers while charging smaller apps higher fees, he concluded.

    RBC has an overweight rating and $220 price target for Apple — 54% above where shares were trading on Thursday.

    Shares tanked as much as 9.5% to $142.95 a piece on Thursday, and were down 16% in the past year.

    Now read:

    AAPL

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    Mastercard gig economy

    • Microbusinesses and gig workers around the world face a common challenge: how to manage their finances.
    • Mastercard is working with several organizations to provide digital payment solutions.
    • Financial education is also key to helping these types of workers.

    A chilly, rainy evening can be great news for a ride-hail driver — who wants to walk in the rain? But what happens when a stretch of beautiful weather causes a sudden dip in business? For gig workers, rent and other bills are due monthly, but their income is far less regular. And many of them — like ride-hail drivers — are paid indirectly, so they’re often waiting around for whatever technology their companies use to release their payments.

    Whether it's an on-demand delivery person in the rural Midwest, a caregiver in Tampa, or a ride-hail driver in Chicago, gig workers, who now make up more than one-third of the American workforce, face a common challenge: how they manage their finances.

    “There is a fundamental disconnect between the high, fixed-cost traditional American dream and the variable income that comes with independent work,” says Diane Mulcahy, author of The Gig Economy.“Our traditional American dream is built on a foundation of fixed debt payments — a mortgage, car loans, credit card debt, and, increasingly, college loans — and the steady paychecks needed to service that debt.”

    The solutions? Easier access to digital-payments and learning how to budget for regular expenses with irregular income.

    Mastercard is dedicated to serving this segment in new ways. In the US and around the globe, digital solutions and research are helping new economy workers manage their cash flow and create financial stability for themselves and their families.

    Rooted in research

    The best fintech solution may not be the same for every type of work, so getting it right takes some effort. Mastercard started with a multi-city campaign across the US to meet with community leaders, local government officials, businesses, and consumer-advocacy groups. The goal was to learn more about how to help gig workers balance earning, paying, and retaining their money.

    “What we’ve seen through our research is that consumers with that volatility really struggle on the ‘pay’ and ‘retain’ side,” says Jennifer Rademaker, the executive vice president of global customer delivery for Mastercard. And when they don’t have the cash to make payments, she adds, they often go into debt. And savings? Forget about it.

    “We know from analysis by economists Jackson, Looney, and Ramnath that gig workers are considerably less likely than traditional employees to make retirement contributions, whether through employer plans or IRAs” says Ryan Nunn, policy director for The Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution. “They estimate that while 42% of wage earners make retirement contributions, only about 19% of gig workers do so. It is important that we find ways to help gig workers — and others without traditional employer relationships — to make the investments that will ensure their retirement security down the road.”

    Financial-education programs

    Technology is only one piece of the financial-security puzzle. Financial skills are critical for users to make the tools work for them. But according to a 2016 study, nearly two-thirds of Americans can't pass a basic financial-literacy test — and the financial challenges for gig workers go beyond the basics.

    “Not knowing how much you’re going to earn from week-to-week causes a problem when you look at how much you have to pay, because your payments are fixed,” Rademaker says. “People often just don’t have the budgeting skills to handle that variability.”

    Master Your Card is a Mastercard initiative that offers free events and financial literacy tools to anyone; much of the educational resources are available to read or download at no cost. The program provides information on avoiding financial fraud, offers economic-empowerment fairs for families, and more.

    "Financial planning for gig workers is critical because many of them lack the consistent benefits that corporate workers receive, like healthcare and retirement, so they can't afford to make mistakes," Rademaker says.

    Tailor-made fintech solutions

    With the knowledge they need to budget and save, gig workers can take charge of their finances, especially with fintech solutions that are tailored to their needs.

    Mastercard's Inclusive Futures Project aims to deliver exactly that, like a tool to help on-demand drivers collect their pay in near real-time. The company has also partnered with Care.com to make it easier for caregivers to manage their variable cash flows and personal finances with tools that facilitate real-time payments and budget management tools.

    Assemble for Millennials is a targeted solution for young workers. It's a digital hub that helps millennials manage their money through a prepaid account, a mobile app, and a payment card.

    With an increasing number of the global workforce striking out on their own, digital tools, training, and resources are starting to help more of them move toward a more secure financial future.

    Find out more about how Mastercard is helping gig workers across the US. 

    This post is sponsored by Mastercard.

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    The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

    Uplift Desk chair review

    • Top-quality office chairs make it easier for you to put in long hours without shoulder or back aches.
    • Best known for their sit-stand desks, Uplift Desk recently introduced an ergonomic chair that has a ribbed design that mimics your vertebrae.
    • I especially liked that there were five different ways to adjust the chair to ensure that I was as comfortable as possible.
    • The Uplift Vert Ergonomic Office Chair is a mid-range option (currently $399 on the Uplift Desk website), but it has many features that you would expect from more expensive chairs, such as adjustable lumbar support.

    The average full-time office worker spends about 2,000 hours per year at their desk. If you spend that much of your life doing anything, you want to be as comfortable as possible, right? Plus, your posture and comfort during those work hours will have a major impact on how your body feels when you're off the clock. Therefore, one of the biggest factors in determining your contentment is the type of office chair you use.

    Founded in 2002, Uplift Desk has focused on making the office work environment more ergonomic. Their products include standing desks, height-adjustable desks, stools, motion boards, and an array of other helpful office accessories. Uplift Desk recently sent me a variety of their products for free to test out. Below, we will look at how the Uplift Vert Ergonomic Office Chair stood up after 200 hours of use.

    My first experiences with the Uplift Desk Chair

    I am the worst at assembling just about anything. After unboxing the Uplift Vert Ergonomic Office Chair, I went to put it together and noticed there was no baggy with the screws and such in it. "They forgot to pack it," I thought. So, I contacted Uplift Desk, and they next-day mailed the pieces to me. Then, as I went to put the chair together, I noticed that it came with the fasteners already in place. I just needed to unscrew them and put them back in again with the parts connected. Duh!

    Despite my blunder, the assembly process took 20 minutes. I did need to enlist the help of my teenage son to hold the back just right while I fastened it to the seat. Thanks to the ribbed design, the finished product was evocative of that one sculpture from Beetlejuice. There are five ways to customize the chair to your body:

    • The arms adjust from about 7" to 11" above the seat
    • The seat height adjusts from 15.7" to 19.7" above floor level
    • The seat depth adjusts from 17.3" to 19.7"
    • The seat back tilts
    • There is adjustable lumbar support that you can adjust based on the curvature of your spine

    How the Uplift Desk Chair performed

    Before I get into it, I should describe the perspective I am approaching this from. I'm a portly fella: 6 feet tall and 240 pounds heavy. The weight capacity of the Vert chair is 250 pounds. So, I am kind of pushing the limits, but I still found it comfortable. I was able to sit for hours on end without getting antsy and didn't experience arm or shoulder soreness as I have with other chairs. As a writer with perhaps a little too much on my plate, I spent several eight-hour-plus days glued to the seat as I scrambled to hit deadlines.

    The chair has a mesh back, which was a godsend during the heatwaves in my under-air-conditioned home. The mesh allowed for airflow that kept me cool as the mercury rose. The plush seat isn't as breathable, but I didn't notice it holding onto excessive heat. The black seat was a magnet for my two cats, who tended to leave a good portion of their fur on it.

    Screen Shot 2018 09 25 at 11.34.22 AM

    The movement of a chair is important as you access files from nearby cabinets, answer the phone, or perform other common office tasks. Fortunately, the swivel of the Vert chair is incredibly smooth. To test this, I pushed my hand off my desk to see how many full revolutions I could make on a single push. The average was seven. Unless you work on the Mad Tea Party ride at Disney World, you probably don't need to spin that much. However, the test does illustrate how mobile the Vert chair is, and it keeps my preschooler entertained when he needs daddy to take a break.

    The Uplift Vert chair also rolls smoothly on hardwood. I tested this by pushing off of a wall and seeing how far I rolled. I made it about 15 feet, which should be enough for you to effortlessly glide over to a file cabinet to pull important paperwork.

    Some concerns about the chair

    For the most part, the chair is great. I don't think I've ever worked in a more comfortable chair. But, I have a few minor quibbles. I wish there was a way to tilt the seat back a little. I felt like I was tilted forward slightly.

    The chair comes with a three-year warranty. This is better than most of the cheaper options on the market, but it doesn't compare to what you might get from high-end office product manufacturers, such as Steelcase, Herman Miller, or Haworth. These companies offer warranties of 12 years or more, but their chairs cost twice as much.

    I tried the Vert chair on low pile carpeting, and it did not move well. The wheels are approximately 2.6" in diameter, but that was not enough to provide effortless movement on carpet. Therefore, if you decide on this chair for your carpeted office, consider a good carpet chair mat.

    Bottom line

    Overall, the Uplift Vert Ergonomic Office Chair is the best chair I've ever used in my home office. The five adjustable settings made it customizable to my body, and though I'm pushing the weight capacity, I have never felt like the materials couldn't hold my girth.

    Though at $400 the chair is more than I like to invest in a chair, I've come to understand the value of spending a little bit more on an item that will provide everyday comfort for years to come.

    Buy the Uplift Vert Ergonomic Office Chair from Uplift Desk for $399

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    Hotel pillows and bed

    • The Worldwide Bedbug Registry claims to be "the go-to bedbug reporting source for the public."
    • The Worldwide Bedbug Registry and Bedbug Reports are databases of user-submitted reports of bedbug sightings at hotels, buildings, and rental homes.
    • Using these sites, you can search for a specific hotel or chain to find out how many (if any) user-submitted reports of bedbugs have been made about that location.
    • There is also an official government website for New York City that allows you to check a buildings' complaint history. 
    • Take these reviews with a grain of salt since not all of them are officially confirmed.

    Encountering bedbugs is never a pleasant experience, and there are many unexpected places for them to hide. So when you're traveling or looking to rent a new home or office, it's always a great idea to do your research.

    Since bedbugs can happen in almost any place at any time and for many of these websites reports are not confirmed or verified, you can't always be certain that reports about bedbugs are accurate. 

    That being said, here are some websites that allow you to check for bedbug reports. 

    A website called The World BedBug Registry Project was created to let people know where bedbugs have supposedly been sighted at hotels

    The World BedBug Registry Project says it allows users to search hotels for any reported bedbug issues, dating back to 2012. The project was launched by bedbugs.net in 2012, and it gathers its information based on user reports of bedbug sightings. 

    According to the website, the Worldwide Bedbug Registry aims to  be "the go-to bedbug reporting source for the public."

    "Our goal is to provide the public with knowledge to make informed choices on where they should stay,"the site creators wrote on the FAQ page.

    Once you get on the website, you can search the reports by entering a specific hotel name or address. You can also search by a hotel chain, city, or state. 

    On the site, more than 12,000 user-submitted reports have been made about hotels in the US, including about 400 made so far in 2018. But that's just in the US — the database is worldwide. 

    You'll want to keep in mind that these reports are submitted by users, so there's no way to confirm their accuracy and while the site says they cannot control what is posted, they do allow hotel management to dispute claims in the comments.

    "This is a global public bedbug registry," the site states in their FAQ "As such, we can't control exactly what's posted. However, we do provide a medium for hotel management to respond to any claims made against them via the reply comments."

    In addition to user reports, the site includes information about the hotel's response rate to the bed bug claims and how many bedbug-related reports have been disputed.

    It's also important to keep in mind that once a sighting has been reported, it cannot be taken down— even if the supposed bedbugs have since been exterminated

    If you're in or visiting New York, you can check the official New York City website to see if a building has bedbug complaintschecking bed checking for bed bugs bedbugs

    The official government website for New York City suggests using the NYC Housing Preservation & Development website to search a building's address in order to discover data about that building including a list of complaints about the building (including bed bug-related ones) as well as any recent health and safety violations. 

    If you're in or traveling to the US or Canada, BedBug Reports allows you to search for user reports of bed bugs in buildings, rental homes, and hotels

    girl on computer laptop at nightThe website BedBug Reports gathers reports of bedbugs from users and categorizes them by state and city. The website gathers user reports that can be anonymous and are not verified, so use your best judgment when reviewing them. That being said, BedBug Reports says they allow hotel and building owners to dispute false reports and have them removed if they can provide "a copy from an extermination report advising that [their] hotel/apartment is clear of bed bugs."

    Visit INSIDER's homepage for more.

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    PaymentsEcosystem_Teaser

    This is a preview of a research report from Business Insider Intelligence. Current subscribers can read the report here.

    The digitization of daily life is making phones and connected devices the preferred payment tools for consumers — preferences that are causing digital payment volume to blossom worldwide.

    As noncash payment volume accelerates, the power dynamics of the payments industry are shifting further in favor of digital and omnichannel providers, attracting a wide swath of providers to the space and forcing firms to diversify, collaborate, or consolidate in order to capitalize on a growing revenue opportunity.

    More and more, consumers want fast and simple payments — that's opening up opportunities for providers. Rising e- and m-commerce, surges in mobile P2P, and increasing willingness among customers in developed countries to try new transaction channels, like mobile in-store payments, voice and chatbot payments, or connected device payments are all increasing transaction touchpoints for providers.

    This growing access is helping payments become seamless, in turn allowing firms to boost adoption, build and strengthen relationships, offer more services, and increase usage.

    But payment ubiquity and invisibility also comes with challenges. Gains in volume come with increases in per-transaction fee payouts, which is pushing consumer and merchant clients alike to seek out inexpensive solutions — a shift that limits revenue that providers use to fund critical programs and squeezes margins.

    Regulatory changes and geopolitical tensions are forcing players to reevaluate their approach to scale. And fraudsters are more aggressively exploiting vulnerabilities, making data breaches feel almost inevitable and pushing providers to improve their defenses and crisis response capabilities alike.

    In the latest annual edition of The Payments Ecosystem Report, Business Insider Intelligence unpacks the current digital payments ecosystem, and explores how changes will impact the industry in both the short- and long-term. The report begins by tracing the path of an in-store card payment from processing to settlement to clarify the role of key stakeholders and assess how the landscape has shifted.

    It also uses forecasts, case studies, and product developments from the past year to explain how digital transformation is impacting major industry segments and evaluate the pace of change. Finally, it highlights five trends that should shape payments in the year ahead, looking at how regulatory shifts, emerging technologies, and competition could impact the payments ecosystem.

    Here are some key takeaways from the report:

    • Behind the scenes, payment processes and stakeholders remain similar. But providers are forced to make payments as frictionless as possible as online shopping surges: E-commerce is poised to exceed $1 trillion — nearly a fifth of total US retail — by 2023.
    • The channels and front-end methods that consumers use to make payments are evolving. Mobile in-store payments are huge in developing markets, but approaching an inflection point in developed regions where adoption has been laggy. And the ubiquity of mobile P2P services like Venmo and Square Cash will propel digital P2P to $574 billion by 2023.
    • The competitive landscape will shift as companies pursue joint ventures to grow abroad in response to geopolitical tensions, or consolidate to achieve rapid scale amid digitization.
    • Fees, bans, steering, or regulation could impact the way consumers pay, pushing them toward emerging methods that bypass card rails, and limit key revenue sources that providers use to fund rewards and marketing initiatives.
    • Tokenization will continue to mainstream as a key way providers are preventing and responding to the omnipresent data breach threat.

    The companies mentioned in the report are: CCEL, Adyen, Affirm, Afterpay, Amazon, American Express, Ant Financial, Apple, AribaPay, Authorize.Net, Bank of America, Barclays, Beem It, Billtrust, Braintree, Capital One, Cardtronics, Chase Paymentech, Citi, Discover, First Data, Flywire, Fraedom, Gemalto, GM, Google, Green Dot, Huifu, Hyundai, Ingenico, Jaguar, JPMorgan Chase, Klarna, Kroger, LianLian, Lydia, Macy’s, Mastercard, MICROS, MoneyGram, Monzo, NCR, Netflix, P97, PayPal, Paytm, Poynt, QuickBooks, Sainsbury’s, Samsung, Santander, Shell, Square, Starbucks, Stripe, Synchrony Financial, Target, TransferWise, TSYS, UnionPay, Venmo, Verifone, Visa, Vocalink, Walmart, WeChat/Tencent, Weebly, Wells Fargo, Western Union, Worldpay, WorldRemit, Xevo, Zelle, Zesty, and ZipRecruiter, among others

    In full, the report:

    • Explains the factors contributing to a swell in global noncash payments
    • Examines shifts in the roles of major industry stakeholders, including issuers, card networks, acquirer-processors, POS terminal vendors, and gateways
    • Presents forecasts and highlights major trends and industry events driving digital payments growth
    • Identifies five trends that will shape the payments ecosystem in the year ahead

    SEE ALSO: These are the four transformations payments providers must undergo to survive digitization

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