April 12, 2018

The concept of working from home has been a controversial issue among some employers for years. On the one hand, proponents claim that remote working can reduce costs while improving morale among staff. For its critics, though, the idea of working from home brings to mind images of employees who would rather lounge on a couch than do their job.

But according to a new study from Stanford, the former group’s assessment is likely the more accurate one. It all Continue reading

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April 10, 2018

Paying with a credit card is an almost entirely electronic process except for one notable step: the signature. Although this final part of the transaction is meant to provide another layer of security, many consumers quickly squiggle something down on the line just to get the procedure over with. Then there are people like Doug Taylor, who goes the extra mile by signing his receipts with a doodle of a little dog wagging its tail. “It gets a laugh, most Continue reading

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April 6, 2018

Industrial robots were once so dangerous that factory employees could not work in the same room as them due to safety concerns. This video shows just how far technology has come since those early years, with today’s soft-handed robots able to pick up delicate items like fruit or plush toys.

Questions:

  1. Why have items like apples traditionally been difficult for robots to handle? How does modern “soft-robotics” address this problem?
  2. Do you think robots could eventually displace much of the Continue reading
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March 30, 2018

As anyone who’s ever worked in retail knows, dealing with unpredictable work hours can be a frustrating experience. At the Gap, for instance, schedules must be posted 10 days in advance but can change quickly if the staff must prepare for big events like sales promotions or visits from executives. Even during standard operating times this system is far from perfect, with employees uncertain if they’ll work the same shifts from one week to the next. “I don’t count on Continue reading

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March 13, 2018

Last week McDonald’s scored a major marketing hit when the company flipped its famous Golden Arches into a “W” in honor of International Women’s Day. But the logo is far from the only thing the burger chain plans to turn upside down in 2018. In an effort to appeal to environmentally conscious consumers, McDonald’s recently announced some big changes that will make it more sustainable. Along with getting rid of styrofoam cups, the chain is also switching to fresh beef Continue reading

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March 9, 2018

With a userbase of more than 2 billion people, Facebook drives an astonishing amount of Internet traffic every day. So how exactly does the social network manage to succeed without collapsing under the weight of all that data? Like other tech giants, Facebook depends on enormous data centers packed with computer servers to keep the constant stream of information flowing. In fact, these “hyperscale” structures are just as important to the tech industry as factories or mines are to manufacturers. Continue reading

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March 8, 2018

Last year the shipping industry transported more than $4 trillion worth of goods all over the world on huge container vessels. Although these mighty boats are now the backbone of global supply chains, shipping wasn’t always so efficient. This video takes a look at how these metal behemoths revolutionized an ancient industry and the ways they continue to innovate today.

Questions:

  1. How did large container vessels revolutionize the shipping industry?
  2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of using large container Continue reading
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March 1, 2018

Levi Strauss started selling blue jeans more than 100 years ago to miners and farmers who appreciated how long the pants could last under tough conditions. And while today’s consumers love the distressed look that denim achieves with a lot of wear, they don’t exactly want to toil in a mine in order to scuff up their jeans properly. Instead, over the years Levi’s has done all the fraying, fading and ripping themselves in a time-consuming process. Besides taking about Continue reading

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February 27, 2018

Last week, we took a look at the logistical nightmare that caused hundreds of British KFCs to close due to a lack of chicken. And while the company seems to have solved this issue for now, another strange supply chain problem is frustrating consumers halfway around the world. This time, however, the product in question is a bit more essential to daily life than fried chicken.

Over the weekend in Taiwan, panicked shoppers rushed to stores so they could purchase Continue reading

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February 22, 2018

From keeping lodges toasty to powering chair lifts that must frequently scale mountains, ski resorts go through enormous amounts of energy during the winter months. Along with taking a toll on the environment, this heavy dependence on power can also be quite expensive. That’s why many ski resorts throughout the country are setting up their own utility systems to produce energy efficiently and sustainably.

Colorado’s Aspen Skiing Company, for instance, generates 24 million kilowatt hours of energy per year to Continue reading

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