June 29, 2017

Christiaan-ColenOn Tuesday Roman Klimenko headed into his Kiev accounting office for work just like he does every day. A few hours after he opened his tax preparation software, however, something went horribly wrong. “The screen became red,” said Klimenko. “A warning appeared, and everything on the hard drive was scrambled.” In a matter of moments he lost all of his filings from last year.

This same situation played out across tens of thousands of Ukrainian computers in that same instant. Continue reading

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June 16, 2017

In Japan you can buy almost anything from a vending machine: hot tea, sushi, umbrellas, even bread in a can. This video takes a look at the economic and cultural factors that have contributed to Japan’s vending obsession, such as an excess of coinage and a shortage of unskilled labor.

Questions:

  1. How does Japan’s low birth rate contribute to its vending machine culture?
  2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of relying so heavily on vending machines?
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June 15, 2017

tupalo-zara2017 has not been a good year so far for many retailers. Chains like J.C. Penney and Sears plan to close hundreds of locations while J. Crew has posted 11 consecutive quarters of declining same-store sales. But as these formerly powerful brands struggle, the Spanish fashion giant Zara is thriving like never before. This week its parent company Inditex announced that first quarter sales jumped 18 percent to $733.3 million. Plus, total sales for Zara topped out at $6.3 billion, Continue reading

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June 13, 2017

slgckgc-kitkatKitKats first landed in U.K. candy stores in 1935 and the four-fingered bars quickly became a hit. By the 1970s the crunchy chocolate candy had grown from a popular British treat into a worldwide hit. Nestle purchased KitKat in 1988 and solidified the candy bar’s position as a global brand. KitKat has changed little over the course of this long history, retaining its signature four-fingers of chocolate that “break off” with a satisfying snap.

But according to a recent ruling Continue reading

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raniel-diazSince 1967 customers have flocked to Trader Joe’s to stock up on such unusually named items as Quinoa Cowboy Veggie Burgers and Chocolate Dilemma Cheesecake. And while the grocery chain has attracted thousands of loyal patrons over the years, perhaps no other customer has been as dedicated as Mike Hallatt. For years this Vancouver native would drive 3 hours south of his Canadian hometown to Seattle where he would pack his car with as many Trader Joe’s products as he Continue reading

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european-citiesWith the school year ending and summer right around the corner, students and teachers around the country are likely counting the days until they can finally go on vacation. The most fortunate of this already lucky bunch may be headed to Europe to take in the continent’s grand cities and ancient monuments. But while these world travelers get excited about their upcoming trips, the residents of some European tourist destinations don’t share the same enthusiasm.

Barcelona, for instance, recently passed Continue reading

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In the early days of China’s tech industry, most companies simply took the concepts developed by successful American startups and created Chinese versions of them. For instance, rather than Google, most of the country uses the domestically owned search engine Baidu. But after years of imitation, Chinese apps like the all-encompassing WeChat could change the way that people use the Internet all over the world.

Questions:

 

  1. Why haven’t American tech companies like Facebook and Google been able to succeed Continue reading
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droneIn 2013 Amazon announced a bold new venture: a drone delivery service that could bring products to customers within 30 minutes. Three years later, the e-commerce giant completed its first Amazon Prime Air delivery during a trial run in Great Britain. Of course, the company still has a long way to go before its drones are ready to take flight in great numbers. Along with figuring out many technical details, Amazon must also deal with regulations that limit where drones Continue reading

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virus-attackLast Friday hackers launched a massive cyberattack that targeted hundreds of thousands of users and organizations in more than 150 countries. Using a “ransomware” virus called WannaCry, the malware infected computer systems by locking users out of their files and demanding money to set them free. Regardless of whether the user paid up or not, though, the virus was easily able to spread to other computers linked within the same network. Eventually one lucky researcher discovered a “kill switch” in Continue reading

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April 25, 2017

chinese-companiesFor years tech giants like Facebook and Google have tried to set up shop in China only to see their efforts blocked by the country’s restrictive government. In place of these global brands, domestic companies like the search engine Baidu and the social network Weibo have flourished among China’s enormous Internet community. And in an ironic twist, this growing tech sector owes much of its success to the structure and culture of Silicon Valley’s biggest names.

Many Chinese companies are Continue reading

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