August 2, 2018

If you’ve never heard of poke (pronounced poe-kay) before, then you’re certainly not alone. This Hawaiian dish consisting of marinated sushi served over rice has been popular with eaters in the 50th state since the 1970s. For many people on the U.S. mainland, however, this meal remained a mystery until a few years ago when poke joints began to pop up along the east and west coasts. It has since grown into a nationwide trend: according to Foursquare more than Continue reading

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July 31, 2018

Although people sometimes use “vanilla” as a byword for “boring,” the complicated global industry that surrounds this flavor is far from dull. 80 percent of the world’s vanilla crop is grown in Madagascar, which has the perfect climate for vanilla orchids. These plants only bloom one day a year and must be pollinated by hand, followed by another 9 months of waiting for the fruit to mature into pods. Then comes another weeks-long process of curing the plants using steam, Continue reading

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July 27, 2018

From smartphones to electric vehicles, many of today’s most innovative products depend on lithium-ion batteries to function. That’s why every year the tech industry upgrades these portable power sources to hold more and more charge. While this allows them to create better products (at least in theory), it also leads companies to discard a lot of technically obsolete batteries that can still collect energy. For instance, the lithium-ion units that power cars and buses can be used for Continue reading

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July 26, 2018

For the past few years, a number of technology companies have championed self-driving cars as the future of transportation. But recently the concept has received some bad press thanks to a string of accidents involving autonomous vehicles. For instance, last month a Waymo test car made headlines when it ended up in a five-car crash. Meanwhile, several Tesla vehicles in “driver-assist” mode have been involved in collisions, including one fatal incident. As a result, consumers are becoming more wary about Continue reading

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July 24, 2018

Last week, we took a look at the “robocallers” who use fake caller ID information to trick Americans into picking up their phones. Although they are undoubtedly annoying, these automated messages are far less dangerous than the human scammers who directly target vulnerable consumers. For instance, an older person might receive a threatening call from someone claiming to be with the IRS. The scammer will then tell their victim to send an immediate payment or else risk Continue reading

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July 20, 2018

Back in the pre-Internet days, companies would pay a fortune to set up services that allowed them to limit the number of phone lines used in the office. This meant that a company with 100 employees could use a single number with extensions rather than set up 100 seperate lines. Once caller ID came on the scene, these systems would display the same name to the receiver whether the call was coming from the mailroom or the C-suite.

This pricey Continue reading

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July 19, 2018

As far as Instagram influencers go, Lil Miquela might not seem all that unique at first glance. More than 1 million people follow the teenager’s feed as she regularly shares stories about her life and shows off her stylish wardrobe. Miquela isn’t real, though, and not just in the “nothing is real on Instagram” sense: she is a computer-generated creation made by a Los Angeles startup. While that might seem bizarre at first, CGI influencers like Miquela give us a Continue reading

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July 17, 2018

Amazon’s Prime Day has a bit of a misleading name: the e-commerce site’s annual offering of deals actually lasts 36 hours, starting yesterday afternoon and going until midnight tonight. One matter that isn’t up for debate, however, is the promotion’s ability to bring in a lot of money. Analysts expect that this year’s Prime Day will generate about $3.4 billion in sales for Amazon, which would beat 2017’s total by more than $1 billion. But despite this upcoming windfall, so Continue reading

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July 13, 2018

Since its 1997 founding, the Build-a-Bear Workshop has made more than 160 million teddy bears for kids who play a key part in their assembly. The process starts when a child picks an un-stuffed animal from a bin before heading to the stuffing machine to transform their creation into a friend they’ll treasure forever. But customers don’t stop there: they can also purchase a variety of costumes and accessories for their bears. By the time the Build-a-Bear experience is over, Continue reading

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July 12, 2018

Americans use an estimated 500 million plastic straws every day. And while these small pieces of polypropylene can be recycled, they are rarely accepted by recycling centers. “Plastic straws are pretty small and lightweight, so when they’re going through the mechanical sorter, they’re often lost or diverted,” said plastics pollution researcher Sam Athey. Instead, straws usually end up in landfills which can then lead to oceans and beaches. Although no one knows just how many straws currently pollute our waterways, Continue reading

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