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Communications

Your High School Wants You To Install Snapchat 157

Bennett Haselton writes: They would never admit it, but your high school admins would probably breathe a sigh of relief if all of their sexting-mad students would go ahead and install Snapchat so that evidence of (sometimes) illegal sexting would disappear into the ether. They can't recommend that you do this, because it would sound like an implicit endorsement, just like they can't recommend designated drivers for teen drinking parties -- but it's a good bet they would be grateful. Read on for the rest.
Technology

Four Facepalm Bugs In USPS Label-Printing Site 182

"The United States Postal Service "Click-N-Ship" site suffered no outages or slowdowns during Christmas rush," writes Bennett Haselton. "It just has bugs that make the process more annoying than just standing in line at the post office, which defeats the purpose. The most frustrating part is that most of these bugs could have been fixed, just by having some testers run through the ordering process and make a note of anything that seems confusing or wrong. (Although I've included notes on how to work around all the bugs, so you really can print your own labels and skip the line.)" Read on for the rest; what other gripes do you have about the current package delivery regime, and how would you resolve them?
Cellphones

Really, Why Are Smartphones Still Tied To Contracts? 482

Bennett Haselton writes: "It's not trivial to explain why cell phone companies find it profitable to sell phones at a deep up-front discount and make it back over a two-year contract. Why don't other companies sell similarly-priced goods the same way? (And why, for that matter, has T-Mobile found it more profitable to do the opposite, selling the phone and the service separately?) I'm trying to come up with an explanation that makes realistic and consistent assumptions about the stupidity of the buying public, and still makes sense." Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.
Transportation

The Best Parking Apps You've Never Heard Of and Why You Haven't 163

Bennett Haselton writes "If you read no further, use either the BestParking or ParkMe app to search all nearby parking garages for the cheapest spot, based on the time you're arriving and leaving. I'm interested in the question of why so few people know about these apps, how is it that they've been partially crowded out by other 'parking apps' that are much less useful, and why our marketplace for ideas and intellectual properly is still so inefficient." Read below to see what Bennett has to say.
Transportation

If Ridesharing Is Banned, What About Ride-Trading? 353

Bennett Haselton writes "The city of Seattle just imposed new limits on commercial app-based ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft, effectively protecting taxi companies from low-cost competition in the form of smartphone apps. If other cities follow suit, could a company help ridesharers circumvent the restrictions by creating a ride-trading app, allowing drivers to earn 'miles' by driving passengers, and redeem those miles later to get rides for themselves?" Continue reading below to see what Bennett has to say.
Image

Book Review: To Save Everything, Click Here Screenshot-sm 115

Bennett Haselton writes "Evgeny Morozov's forthcoming book To Save Everything, Click Here describes how an overly helpful 'kitchen of the future' might stifle the learning process and threaten culinary innovation. True, but we could certainly do better than the current state of how-to directions (in cooking and most other subjects) that you can find today on Google. I suggest that the answer lies not in intelligent kitchen technology, but in designing an algorithm that would produce the best possible how-to directions -- where the 'best' directions are judged according to the results that are achieved by genuine beginners who attempt to follow the directions without help." Read below for the rest of Bennett's review.
Editor's Note: This article was not intended as a full review, but rather a commentary on one point in the book. The author's actual review of the book will appear in March.

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