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June 22 2017 1:14 PM

Ikea Is Looking Into Whether This Stainless Steel Bowl Sets Food on Fire

 

This post originally appeared on Business Insider.

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Ikea is investigating a claim that one of its bowls may set things on fire.

A Swedish man says he was eating grapes from an Ikea "Blanda Blank" stainless steel serving bowl this weekend when he began to smell smoke, the Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet reported, according to a translation by The Local.

"I saw it was burning in the grape bowl. How is that possible, I thought. Then I saw there was one intense point where (the sun) hit the twigs, and that's where it started," Richard Walter told Aftonbladet.

To demonstrate what had happened, Walter recorded a video showing the bowl setting fire to a piece of paper. The video has been viewed more than 18,000 times.

Check it out:

The bowl, which comes in a variety of sizes, costs between $1.99 and $11.99.

Ikea is reportedly now investigating the claim that sunlight reflecting off the bowl's surface can start fires.

"We take this information very seriously and will now investigate what happened," an Ikea spokesperson told Aftonbladet.

On Ikea's US website, users say the bowl is a "great size for serving or prep cooking." There is no mention of fires caused by the bowl.

Ikea did not respond to a request for comment.

June 21 2017 2:43 PM

Why Walmart Has Nothing to Fear From Amazon and Whole Foods

Investors are grossly overestimating the impact to Walmart of Amazon's bid for Whole Foods, according to Moody's.

Amazon's offer of $13.7 billion, or $42 a share, for the natural and organic grocery chain won't give the ecommerce giant "any discernible edge" over Walmart, writes Charlie O'Shea, lead analyst for Moody's Investors Service, in a research note published Wednesday.

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"We have been asked by investors and media over the past few days, in almost breathless tones, 'What does Walmart do?' and 'Isn’t Walmart scared?'" O'Shea said. "Realistically speaking, a challenged $16 billion food retailer is merely changing owners. And Walmart, already the world’s largest retailer, also is the world’s biggest grocer."

Walmart's stock fell more than 4 percent after news of the Amazon-Whole Foods deal emerged last week, and it has yet to recover.

But Walmart is opening new stores while other retailers are shrinking, and Moody's expects its food business to "accelerate at a rapid pace, with buy-online/pick-up-in-store its latest weapon."

With more than 5,330 locations throughout the US that are within 10 miles of 90 percent of the population, there's no company better positioned than Walmart to dominate the grocery industry, he said.

He described Walmart's Neighborhood Market stores—which are much smaller than its Supercenters and primarily focus on groceries and pharmacy—as the "linchpin" to Walmart's success.

The company has doubled the number of Neighborhood Market stores to 700 over the last three years.

"The growth of the Neighborhood Market is the biggest risk for traditional supermarkets, including Whole Foods," he wrote.

The smaller-format stores are convenient for fill-in trips between visits to Supercenters or Sam's Club, and prices are comparable to Walmart's Supercenter prices.

"For a segment that is dependent on convenience, ease, and location, we believe Walmart’s dominance in this segment will only increase over time, and that if online grocery delivery can ever reach scale, Walmart is the retailer that will benefit the most as it has the most complete distribution network," O'Shea wrote.

Amazon's bid to buy Whole Foods isn't actually a threat to Walmart at all, but just an indication of the Amazon's recognition that it would never be able to scale its food business without a brick-and-mortar presence, he said.

June 8 2017 1:49 PM

Why Facebook No Longer Promotes Solidarity Filters for Profile Pictures After a Terrorist Attack

As details of the bomb blast at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, on May 22 and then of the knife and truck attack in London on Saturday night started flooding social media, one thing was noticeably absent from Facebook: solidarity filters.The filters, which let users lay a translucent flag of an attacked country over their profile picture, were first introduced by Facebook after the coordinated bombings and shootings in Paris that left more than 130 people dead in November 2015.Along with the #prayforparis and #jesuisparis hashtags, the solidarity gesture quickly picked up speed—more than 120 million people used the French flag overlay in the first three days, a Facebook representative told Business Insider.

But Facebook's swift decision to promote the solidarity gesture generated backlash in the form of sharp criticism from many who pointed out the lack of such compassionate gestures for crises in Lebanon and Syria. Facebook hasn't promoted a solidarity filter since, the Facebook representative said.

June 6 2017 2:46 PM

What Is Augmented Reality Actually Good For? Apple Just Asked Software Developers to Figure It Out.

SAN JOSE, California—Judging by crowd reactions in the cavernous auditorium where Apple addressed its developer community on Monday, the most exciting thing Apple revealed wasn't a new iPad or a fully loaded iMac, but a wonky set of developer tools called ARKit; the AR stands for augmented reality.

Augmented reality is an emerging and hot technology that uses advances in camera and graphics technology to integrate the digital world with the real world. Think of Pokémon Go—hold up your phone, a Pokémon appears in the real world, and you can digitally catch it.

Big tech companies like Apple are investing in AR because it's widely seen in the industry as the next big platform after the smartphone, and it could eventually end up in smart glasses that replace all the screens in your life. And with ARKit, Apple just took a big lead in the young field. Apple's new ARKit software makes it significantly easier for software makers to make these kinds of apps. Instead of doing all the hard computational work of say, figuring out where the tabletop is, developers can instead use Apple's software to do that and spend their time building a useful application around it.

But Apple has no idea what those applications could look like. Or if Apple has a vision for what a fully augmented reality would be like, it didn't show it on Monday. Instead, it passed the buck to its developers.

June 5 2017 3:40 PM

Qataris, Fearing an Imminent Food Shortage, Are Packing the Nation’s Supermarkets

Qatari residents awoke on Monday to learn that several major Gulf State nations had cut all diplomatic ties with their country. Along with several other countries in the Middle East, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain have all announced the decision to sever their relationship with Qatar due to its government's support of Islamist groups and Iran. "The measures that have been taken by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the other states are the equivalent of an economic blockade," Jean-Marc Rickli, head of global risks and resilience at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, told Business Insider.

With rising uncertainty about how the sanctions will affect the country's food supplies, many Qataris have already started stocking up on supplies at their local supermarkets. Along with giving Qatari citizens two weeks to leave those countries and shutting down Qatar's only land border with Saudi Arabia, leaders of the Arab states have moved to isolate the country by land, sea, and air. The Arab world's decision to cut diplomatic ties with the oil-rich nation comes two weeks after President Donald Trump called on the Arab countries to do more to fight extremism in the Middle East. Egypt's state news agency announced that Qatar "threatens Arab national security and sows the seeds of strife and division within Arab societies according to a deliberate plan aimed at the unity and interests of the Arab nation."

Amid rising political and economic uncertainty, Qatari residents streamed to nearby supermarkets in order to stock up on food. Even though Qatar's foreign affairs ministry told people that the rift would not alter life for ordinary Qatari people, many chose to stock up on supplies of eggs, milk, water, and rice, Doha News reports. “I’ve never seen anything like it—people have trolleys full of food and water," an observer at the supermarket told the outlet.

May 10 2017 11:36 AM

Abercrombie Is Putting Itself Up for Sale

This post originally appeared in Business Insider.

Abercrombie & Fitch shares soared by 14 percent to $14.50 ahead of Wednesday's opening bell after a Reuters report said the teen retailer hired an investment bank to assess takeover interest.

Any potential suitor should be able to get a favorable price for the company, at least compared with a year ago. Abercrombie has plunged by 61% since reaching a 16-month high in March 2016.

 

May 9 2017 11:32 AM

Bumble Bee Will Plead Guilty to Fixing Canned Tuna Prices

This post originally appeared in Business Insider.

You may have paid more than necessary for canned fish at some point in the last few years. Bumble Bee has agreed to plead guilty for its involvement in fixing shelf-stable tuna fish, the Department of Justice said in a statement on Monday.

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Bumble Bee conspired with other companies to "fix, raise, and maintain prices of packaged seafood," the DoJ alleged in its charge. The DoJ said the price-fixing took place from around the first quarter of 2011 through at least the fourth quarter of 2013. It was unaware of the exact timing.

Bumble Bee has agreed to pay a $25 million criminal fine that could be increased to as much as $81.5 million if the company is sold, subject to some terms and conditions.

Andrew Finch, the acting assistant attorney general in the DOJ's antitrust division, said the charge is the third to be filed in an ongoing investigation into price fixing among the largest suppliers of packaged seafood.

This comes after a former Bumble Bee executive was placed on special leave after court documents showed he had agreed to fix packaged-seafood prices. Walter Scott Cameron, the former senior vice president of sales, talked to representatives of other major packaged seafood producers about fixing prices, CNN reported.

Bumble Bee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

May 1 2017 9:40 PM

Facebook Says It Shouldn’t Have Told an Advertiser How to Reach Insecure Teens

This post originally appeared in Business Insider.

Facebook has responded to a report by The Australian that said the company showed at least one advertiser how to reach emotionally "insecure" and vulnerable teens on its network.

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A 23-page presentation shared with "one of Australia’s top four banks" showed Facebook's ability to understand when users as young as 14 are feeling emotions like “stressed,” “defeated,” “overwhelmed,” and “anxious," according to The Australian.

“Anticipatory emotions are more likely to be expressed early in the week, while reflective emotions increase on the weekend,” according to the leaked Facebook presentation. “Monday-Thursday is about building confidence; the weekend is for broadcasting achievements.”

In a company blog post, Facebook called the sharing of the research an "oversight" and said that it didn't follow internal review guidelines. Facebook also said that the data was collected anonymously and that it has never been used to target ads.

"Facebook does not offer tools to target people based on their emotional state," the company said on Sunday. "The analysis done by an Australian researcher was intended to help marketers understand how people express themselves on Facebook. It was never used to target ads and was based on data that was anonymous and aggregated."

A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment further to Business Insider on Monday or say whether the research had been shared outside of Australia.

Even if Facebook hasn't allowed advertisers to target young people based on their emotions, its sharing of related research highlights the kind of data the company collects about its nearly 2 billion users.

Facebook has come under fire for overstepping its ad targeting capabilities and collection of user data in the past. The social network recently made changes to prevent discriminatory targeting of specific ads based on race. And Facebook came under fire in 2014 when its researchers tweaked the News Feed's algorithms to manipulate users' emotions.

April 20 2017 11:39 AM

Apple Pledges to Stop Using Materials From Mines in iPhones

This post originally appeared in Business Insider.

Apple has pledged to make iPhones out of entirely recycled materials in the future, although it's not quite there yet.

Vice News reported on Wednesday that Apple has publicly announced that it wants to stop using materials sourced from mines. The announcement was made in Apple's 2017 environmental responsibility report, which tracks the company's green credentials.

"We believe our goal should be a closed-loop supply chain, where products are built using only renewable resources or recycled material," the report said.

April 18 2017 2:37 PM

Theranos Will Refund 175,000 People in Arizona Who Took Its Blood Tests

This post originally appeared in Business Insider.

Anyone who paid to take one of Theranos's blood tests in Arizona will be receiving a refund from the company, Arizona's attorney general said on Tuesday. In total, Theranos will pay the state $4.65 million to refund the tests, and will also pay $225,000 to cover civil penalties and attorneys' fees.

"Between 2013 and 2016, Theranos sold approximately 1.5 million blood tests to more than 175,000 Arizonans," the attorney general said in a news release. "Each customer will now be reimbursed the full amount the customer paid for testing regardless of whether the results were voided or corrected."

 

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