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Verizon’s secret new unlimited plan is so good you need an invite

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Thanks to competitive pressure from T-Mobile (pre-merger T-Mobile, that is), all four major carriers in the US now have unlimited plans. Sure, they’re expensive and come with a bunch of caveats — like the fact that they’re not truly unlimited! — but customers love them very dearly.

Still, Verizon’s flagship unlimited plan is $85 for the first line, which is a large amount of money to spend on your phone bill no matter which way you cut it. That might be why the company is very stealthily funding a start-up that offers a more restricted unlimited plan for $40, calls and texts included.

The company is called Visible, which is ironic given that it’s been completely off-the-radar since launching earlier this year. It is squarely aimed at younger users, as the whole thing is about simplicity. You have to download an iOS app to sign up, and you need an invite code to be able to join. You can get a code either from a member, or just put yourself on the waitlist.

Once you get a code and sign up, Visible will send you a SIM, and you’re good to go. You can even pay with PayPal or Venmo, reinforcing the notion that this is definitely a service for younger people. It doesn’t have the same credit applications or complicated sign-on procedure as a postpaid account, and seems designed to compete with the likes of Google’s Project Fi or the increasingly popular prepaid carriers like Boost or MetroPCS.

There is one big problem with Visible, however: Although it uses Verizon’s excellent 4G LTE network, users are perma-throttled to 5Mbps. That’s not dramatically slow, and still fast enough to stream or use apps, but it’s a far cry from the 100Mbps+ speeds that users can expect in areas with new technology and good service. You’re also liable to get de-prioritized when the network is busy, likely in favor of Verizon postpaid customers, who generally get priority over MVNOs.

Still, even with the caveats, $40 a month for unlimited data, calling, and texts on Verizon’s network is a steal. The most surprising thing is that Verizon itself is funding the company, since it has the potential to cannibalize some of Verizon’s existing customers. At a guess, that might be why it started stealthily without any major marketing push: Verizon wants to analyze whether Visible customers are defecting from Verizon postpaid, or whether it’s picking up customers from other prepaid operators or its competitors.

Fashion and music obsessed wanderlust. Resale clothing appreciator who fancies herself a well-crafted cocktail. Occasional photographer. Amateur sneaker head.

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Ralph Nader pens open letter to Tim Cook criticizing $100B buyback, suggests lowering prices & more instead

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During its earnings release over a week ago, Apple announced a new $100 billion share buyback program. The move, while praised by some investors, has been controversial among some who say Apple should put its profits to use in another manner. Now, American politician Ralph Nader is joining those criticizing the new buyback program…

This week, Nader published an open letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook, explaining how there are better ways for Apple to put that money to work. Nader opens the letter by criticizing Tim Cook for not consulting Apple stockholders for their approval:

Last week, you announced the largest single stock buyback in corporate history, amounting to $100 billion.  Probably no more than you and two other Apple executives made this decision prior to receiving the expected rubber stamp from your congenial board of directors.  Your company’s owners – Apple stockholders– were neither consulted nor asked for their approval.

Nader also notes that the success of stock buybacks is a mixed bag – pointing to Cisco as an example. “Cisco, after huge buybacks and much greater profits and size, has its stock about one-half of its March 2000 value,” Nader writes.

Perhaps most notably, however, the politician outlines the other ways Apple could have used its profits that “would receive positive public reactions.”

First, Nader says that for 2 percent of that $100 billion buyback – or $2 billion – Apple could “award a full year’s pay bonus to the 350,000 Foxconn workers. Such a move would provide “economic relief and happiness” to the workers who “sweat for your immense wealth in difficult workplace conditions, unable to afford the Apple phones they manufacture.”

Nader then suggests Apple use some of the $100 billion on research and development, specifically relating to improving supply chain conditions:

You can invest in research and development on ways you can diminish the effects of your company’s toxic supply chain that stretches from the dangerous mines in Africa to the hazardous solid waste disposal when users discard them.  Many serious illnesses, fatalities, and injuries associated with manufacturing your products can be prevented.

Next up, he says some of the money could be used to “reduce some of the collateral damage from excessive iPhone use by youngsters that comes with a sedentary life of obesity.” While Apple has already promised stronger parental controls to help overuse of its technology, Nader suggests the company “invest in needed neighborhood recreational facilities all over the country.”

Nader writes that Apple would also cut prices for consumers, alleging that its current profit margins used to be a signal of market collusion and antitrust:

Of course, you could always cut your prices for consumers. In the 1960s and ‘70s, such profit margins as Apple’s would have been an antitrust signal of possible monopolistic practices or market collusion.

Finally, Nader says the conventional uses of corporate cash would also be acceptable, such as increasing salaries and pensions, improving hiring, and more:

Then there are the conventional applications of a cash-rich company to consider: productive new investments, raising employee salaries and pensions, improving hiring practices, and workforce training and consumer services.

The important thing to note here is that Apple announced a $350 billion investment in the United States economy – so the $100 billion buyback program accounts for less than one-third of that. Thus, it’s possible that the company will use the remainder for things like Nader outlined.

Do you agree with Nader that the $100 billion that Apple will use for the buyback could have been better put elsewhere? Let us know down in the comments.

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There’s nowhere your smartphone can’t see with this awesome wireless camera accessory

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If love cool new smartphone accessories, prepare to be wowed. The Depstech 1200P Semi-rigid Wireless Borescope Camera is a 16-foot borescope that connects to your iPhone or Android phone wirelessly. You can then snake the camera into any tight space and your smartphone becomes a remote viewfinder. Use it to look inside your walls, help run cable, poke around in holes dug by animals, or even retrieve lost keys courtesy of the include hook attachment. You can even record video and save it on your phone! It’s an awesome accessory that you’ll end up using all the time, and the new and improved version is available right now on Amazon.

Here’s what you need to know from the product page:

  • Innovative WiFi Endoscope with great compatibility: different from endoscope camera in the market, this wireless wifi inspection camera will work with Android devices( Android 2.3+), as well as iPhone IOS system(iOS 6.0+). This makes the endoscope appeal to many users with various kinds of devices.
  • True 1200P Resolution Camera: reaching 1600×1200, this endoscope is able to capture HD snapshot of the unknown, mysterious places where the human eyes are difficult to catch the image, along with recording a vivid live- video in AVI format, available to be stored on your devices upon enabling the app to accessible to the Photo App.
  • CamTele Technology Seeing further & Wider: many professional technicians spare no efforts to develop the new technology, so this new product will have longer focal distance than common endoscope, getting rid of the limit within 1-3 inch, and the scope for a clear image can be extended to 15.7 inch, which will be more user-friendly in your inspection work.
  • Simple Operation Method – Turning on WiFi box to generate endoscope WiFi, connect your working device with the endoscope WiFi, and then just enjoy the expected view with our unique app “Depstech”.
  • Featuring 16.5FT cable, waterproof and 8.5mm diameter camera, 6 adjustable LED light on the camera, applicable for kinds of scenarios , regardless of dark area, damp or wet area etc. The semi-rigid cable can bend and hold it’s shape to access confined place, such as curved holes or pipes. Furthermore, it has a durable lithium battery, capacity up to 1800mAh which support 3-4h working time without LED light on, outshining other endoscopes with working time less than 1h.
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Apple faces class action lawsuit over failing MacBook butterfly keyboards

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Apple’s polarizing butterfly keyboard design is now causing the company some legal issues. A new class action lawsuit has been filed against Apple, alleging that the company knew about the reliability issues of the design before launch, yet released it anyway…

As outlined by AppleInsider, the lawsuit was filed in the Northern District Court of California and includes both the 12-inch MacBook and the MacBook Pro.

The lawsuit alleges that “thousands” of users have suffered from problems with the butterfly keyboard device that render it ultimately useless. The lawsuit says that even “minimal amounts of dust or debris” causes the keyboard to fail, thus rendering one of the “core functions” of the MacBook broken. This makes the device “inoperable and unsuitable for its ordinary and intended use.”

Apple’s butterfly keyboard and MacBook are produced and assembled in such a way that when minimal amounts of dust or debris accumulate under or around a key, keystrokes fail to register. The keyboard defect compromises the MacBook’s core functionality.

As a result of the defect, consumers who purchased a MacBook face a constant threat of non-responsive keys and accompanying keyboard failure. When one or more of the keys on the keyboard fail, the MacBook can no longer serve its core function: typing. Thus, when this defect manifests in the MacBook, the computer becomes inoperable and unsuitable for its ordinary and intended use.

The lawsuit goes on to allege Apple “knew that the MacBook is defective at or before” the release. Furthermore, it knew of the issues uses of the 12-inch MacBook were having, yet still brought the butterfly keyboard to the MacBook Pro and sold it at “premium prices.”

Additionally, the suit takes issues with Apple’s marketing – which touts that the butterfly keyboard offers “four times more key stability than a traditional scissor mechanism.”

The 1-year warranty Apple offers to users is acknowledged in the lawsuit, but it argues that “Apple routinely refuses to honor its warranty obligations,” instead instructing MacBook users to “try self-help remedies that it knows will not result in permanent repair.

Ultimately, the lawsuit seeks damages, legal fees, and alls for Apple to disclose the keyboard flaws and replace defective units, including reimbursement for the initial laptop purchase.

This certainly isn’t the first time Apple has come under fire for its butterfly keyboard mechanism. Earlier this month, a petition called for Apple to recall and replace defective MacBook keyboards – that petition has since accumulated over 17,000 signatures.

You can join the class action lawsuit here. 

 

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