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06.03.16 | 12:01 pm

Ever wondered why pot is classed as a performance-enhancing drug?

A new article in Quartz about a weed-friendly gym in San Francisco contains a fascinating detail about why the World Anti-Doping Association considers cannabis a performance-enhancer for athletes. 

While the slow-witted stoner stereotypes may be true—the drug is thought to impair motor skills and reaction time—it also decreases anxiety, potentially keeping athletes calm at crucial moments, and can even increase air flow to the lungs. (Exactly how much is allowed in athletes' blood has changed over time, and some have called for it to be removed from the list now that it's more accepted in everyday life, USA Today reports).

In the San Francisco gym, customers will be encouraged to use small doses and use edibles and vaporized cannabis to avoid inhaling smoke— something that's definitely not performance-enhancing—according to Quartz.

06.28.17 | 2 hours ago

The Petya ransomware attack has gone global

The virus first appeared in Europe, South America, and the U.S. before spreading to India, where it shut down India's biggest container port. Now there are signs that the virus is spreading in China, reports Bloomberg. Petya is ransomware that encrypts a computer's hard drive and then demands the computer's owner to pay $300 USD in bitcoin to decrypt the files. However, the Guardian warns that affected computer users should not pay the ransomware as the "customer service" email address associated with the payment destination has been shut down, so there's no way to receive the decryption key.

06.28.17 | 3 hours ago

Low demand for Blue Apron IPO 

Meal kit Blue Apron has lowered the price range for its upcoming public offering. In an updated prospectus, the company lists the maximum offered price per share at $11. Previously it was listed at a range of $15-$17. The new price suggests low demand for Blue Apron stock. 

There are a number of factors why investors may not be interested. One, Blue Apron pays a very high cost to acquire customers. Secondly, there is a ton of competition and no clear winners. Third, meal kits may not be shaking up to be the grocery disruptors they were purported to be. While customers are increasingly becoming comfortable ordering food online, subscription packages of portioned ingredients and recipes don't provide the full spectrum of grocery needs. And they're inflexible to changing schedules (like when you're out of town for the week). Such challenges prompted us to ask early on: Will Blue Apron even exist in five years?   

06.28.17 | 4 hours ago

Vivo just pulled the rug out from under one of the iPhone 8’s biggest features

The Chinese smartphone maker has shown off the first smartphone using a fingerprint sensor embedded in the display. At their booth at MWC Shanghai, the company showed off a prototype of its Xplay6 that's fitted with Qualcomm's under-display fingerprint sensor, reports Engadget. A display with an integrated Touch ID is rumored to be one of the key new features of the iPhone 8, which should debut in early September.

[Image: Apple]

06.28.17 | 5:59 am

Uber now lets you book rides for loved ones

The ride-sharing app now allows users to request rides for other people, such as elderly parents, by setting their pickup and drop-off points. Once you've selected who the ride is for, Uber will text them with the information so they know when the ride is on its way and has shown up. Your loved one will also be texted the phone number of the driver so they can call them if they wish. In a blog post, Uber says they unveiled the new feature to address mobility challenges of an aging population:

Seniors are concerned about losing their mobility as they age, and their loved ones can feel overwhelmed when managing the senior's transportation needs. Furthermore, today nearly 10% of the global population consists of people aged 65 and over, and that number is only expected to increase. Keeping these insights top of mind, we've been thinking about ways to make our app more accessible to everyone in the family.

[Image: Uber]

06.28.17 | 5:33 am

That’ll be $700,000 to open a restaurant in San Francisco

At one point or another, most people have probably at least flirted with the idea of opening up some kind of eatery, but not many of us have sat down to consider what it would actually cost. That's why Eater shadowed one man's two-year journey of opening his own omakase restaurant in the Bay Area. Here's what it cost from the inception of the idea to opening day:

• Consulting: $25,000

• Rent and utilities: $84,269

• Architecture: $34,500

• Permits: $22,100

• Construction, kitchen design, and equipment: $298,800

• Furniture and equipment: $37,585

• Design, artwork, and smallwares: $59,953

• Branding and public relations: $23,900

• Labor and fees: $38,988

• Opening food and alcohol: $26,000

• Contingency: $50,000

• TOTAL: $701,095

06.27.17 | 3:36 pm

Expect more ransomware attacks, since victims keep paying

Another ransomware attack is disrupting systems in Europe, from computers at a British ad agency to radiation sensors at the Chernobyl power plant, the BBC reports. Computers at Danish shipping giant Maersk were also affected, the company said.

And security experts say the malware, which Symantec researchers report is using one of the same exploits as last month's massive WannaCry attack, likely won't be the last of its kind for the simple reason that ransomware victims really do pay to recover their files. An expert speaking to the BBC pointed to reports that a South Korean web hosting provider recently paid a ransom of about $1 million in bitcoin, and Symantec said in a report earlier this year that 64% of American victims, and 34% of victims worldwide, are willing to pay a ransomware bounty to recover their files. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, that report also found the average ransom demand on the rise, up to more than $1,000 per victim.

06.27.17 | 3:08 pm

Washington Post employees’ social media accounts may begin dying in darkness 

As things currently stand, if a Washington Post reporter tweets something bad about Panda Express, and Panda Express happens to be a Post advertiser, then that reporter can get fired. That's according to the paper's new social media policy, which is currently being protested by its union. These rules went into effect on May 1, reports the Washingtonian

The policy says that employees cannot disparage products or services of the company's "advertisers, subscribers, competitors, business partners, or vendors." It also forbids workers from using social media on the job, unless it's part of their authorized role. 

Perhaps worst of all, the policy encourages employees to contact HR if they see someone in violation of the rules. Which is to say they are asking for snitches. 

Other older journalistic institutions have had run-ins with social media policy woes. The New York Times, for instance, has asked that its reporters not "editorialize" on social media. But this instance differs from most others because of how broad and clear the Post's new rules are. And I imagine they could have a chilling effect with the paper's current and future employees.

06.27.17 | 2:30 pm

Broadway has a wage-gap problem, too

For the first time ever, the Actors' Equity Association has released a diversity report. It details the salaries that theater workers have received for Broadway, Off Broadway, and nationally touring shows, as well as statistics about job demographics. The findings, unfortunately, keep with the broader labor narratives facing the United States. 

The big take-home: There are fewer job opportunities and lower salaries for women and people of color. The study showed that men "have higher contractual salaries in both principal in a musical and chorus contracts," writes Playbill. Similarly, white actors had higher contractual salaries than people of color. African-Americans, specifically, made 10% less than white people.

So while industries like tech that (rightfully) see headlines discussing poor diversity showings and wage gaps, it continues to be a problem virtually everywhere. 

[Photo: Hailey Kean]

06.27.17 | 1:40 pm

Amazing, but true: More than 25% of all humans use Facebook

As a tech journalist who writes frequently about Facebook, I've referred to the size of the service's user base in many ways over the years. Recently, I've been using "nearly 2 billion users." Well, as of today, neither I nor anyone else needs to use the word "nearly" anymore.

That's because, as CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted today, the service has crossed the 2 billion mark. Think about that. There's roughly 7.5 billion people on Earth. That means 26.6% of all the people in the world are active Facebook users. So how did the company reach that impressive number? My colleague Harry McCracken has the scoop on how the company used science and empathy to cross the 2 billion line

06.27.17 | 12:15 pm

Spotify is launching a world tour—no headphones required

Soon you'll be able to listen to your favorite Spotify playlist without a subscription or even earbuds. This summer, Spotify is launching "RapCaviar Live," a six-city tour in partnership with Live Nation, based on the popular playlist, the company announced on Tuesday.

The festivities will kick off August 12 in Atlanta with the self-anointed Trap God, Gucci Mane, along with uber-producer Mike WiLL Made It and a bunch of still-unannounced special guests. Tickets go on sale on Friday, June 30, at 10 a.m. ET. The tour will then move through Chicago, Houston, L.A., NYC, and Toronto, but artists for those shows have not been announced yet. (Hopefully they nail down hip-hop stars before Amazon moves into concert promotion, too.) 

"RapCaviar Live" is the latest way that Spotify is cashing in on its impressive cache of fan data to help book shows and connect artists with their fans; it's also flexing its muscles to help sell tickets. Read more about that here, while trying to guess how long it will take for Tidal to start booking tours, too. Just kidding! They already did.

06.27.17 | 10:58 am

Oscar Mayer now has a “Wienerdrone” because obviously that’s how you deliver hot dogs in the future 

Our weird future can be summed up in one word: Wienerdrone. Oscar Mayer's Wienermobile (aka the original wiener on wheels) has been a fixture hogging up parking places on the city streets for years, but as we move toward a future filled with flying cars and driving-flying drones, the Wienermobile is evolving, just like Darwin predicted. 

Oscar Mayer has just unveiled the Wienerdrone, the flying hot-dog shaped advertisement that is the perfect prediction/indictment of where we are heading as a society—with hot dogs!   

06.27.17 | 10:15 am

A pharma exec was sentenced to nine years in prison for profiting from a meningitis outbreak

A Massachusetts pharmacy executive at the center of a deadly meningitis outbreak was sentenced to nine years in prison on Monday for putting profits above safety.

A federal jury convicted Barry Cadden, the owner and head pharmacist of New England Compounding Center, of racketeering and fraud charges in connection with the outbreak, Reuters reports. Cadden was cleared of second-degree murder charges for the outbreak that killed 76 people in what the DOJ has called the largest public health crisis ever caused by a pharmaceutical product. The outbreak occurred when Cadden started to produce drugs in dangerously unsanitary conditions (moldy gloves! unlicensed pharmacist!) sending more than 17,000 vials of the steroid tainted across the country. The contaminated steroid, which was commonly prescribed for back pain, caused injury or death in some 778 people nationwide. According to the Washington Post, back in 2014, federal prosecutors filed a 131-count indictment against Cadden and 13 others, claiming they "operated more like a criminal enterprise than a pharmacy."