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Monday, March 24, 2014

This Is Walmart’s 5-Step Plan to Conquer Absolutely Everything

This Is Walmart’s 5-Step Plan to Conquer Absolutely Everything


This Is Walmart’s 5-Step Plan to Conquer Absolutely Everything

Posted: 24 Mar 2014 10:59 AM PDT

GameStop, 7-Eleven, Dollar General, CVS, Target, Home Depot, and Food Lion are among the many, many retailers that have new reason to worry about competing with Walmart.

Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, prides itself on selling pretty much anything a consumer needs or wants. That means that Walmart essentially competes with almost every retailer under the sun. Lately, Walmart has been rolling out new tools, policies, sales, and retail formats that target and step up the competition with these store categories in particular:

Video Game Stores
This week, thousands of Walmart stores will start allowing customers to trade in used video games. Instead of turning in the games for cash, customers will receive Walmart gift cards which, depending on a game, could be worth anywhere from a couple bucks to $35. Understandably, analysts view Walmart’s program as a major threat to video game specialists like GameStop, as well as general electronics retailers such as Best Buy—both of which already offer video game exchanges.

Supermarkets, All-Purpose Retailers
Walmart has had a price-matching policy in place for years, in which the onus is on the shopper to ask a store clerk to match a Walmart competitor’s sale price of an item. While the burden is still on the shopper to proactively seek a price match, Walmart has made the job easier (in theory) by launching a new online “Savings Catcher” tool in select markets. Customers are expected to type in their receipt numbers into the “Savings Catcher” page of a walmart.com account within seven days of purchase. The tool then compares prices for all grocery items with brick-and-mortar competitors in the local vicinity, possibly including Target, Dollar General, CVS, and a wide range of grocery chains. As the Associated Press explained, online prices are not searched or matched, and electronics and general merchandise aren’t factored in either.

Convenience Stores
Last Wednesday, Walmart opened its first Kwik-E-Mart. Or rather, it opened Walmart To Go, a new convenience store pilot concept near the company’s Arkansas headquarters that’s about the size of a 7-Eleven, with similar offerings to boot: It’s roughly 2,500 square feet, it features a gas station, and it’s selling snacks, drinks, prepared foods (deli sandwiches, pizza), and a few staples such as milk, bread, and eggs.

(MORE: Walmart’s Big Push to Go Small and Destroy Your Neighborhood Dollar Store)

Dollar Stores
Earlier this year, Walmart announced it was significantly stepping up plans to open more Walmart Express and Walmart Neighborhood Market stores, which are far smaller than a Walmart Super Center, though still much larger than a convenience store. In other words, they’re about the size of a typical dollar store—the category that Walmart hopes to battle it out with via these two emerging retail formats.

Home Improvement Stores
Springtime is a peak sales period for Lowe’s and Home Depot, as the long winter comes to a close and homeowners finally have the opportunity to tackle yard projects in anticipation of summer. Walmart, which has blamed this year’s cold, snowy winter as one of the reasons sales totals have underwhelmed in early 2014, is obviously encroaching on the home improvement category’s turf by kicking off the season with a huge lawn and garden sale this week.

Microsoft Desperately Wants You to Stop Using Windows XP

Posted: 24 Mar 2014 10:52 AM PDT

Windows XP is the operating system that refuses to die. The software is now 12 years old—a dinosaur in the fast-moving technology sector—but runs nearly 30 percent of all Internet-connected desktop PCs, according to analytics firm Net Market Share. Microsoft is planning to end support for the OS on April 8, and it's going to increasingly dramatic measures to convince reluctant customers to upgrade.

Earlier this month the company offered XP users a $50 gift card if they purchased a new PC on the Microsoft online store. Now the company is sweetening the pot by offering a $100 discount on Surface Pro 2 tablets and a range of laptop and desktop computers. Microsoft is also throwing in 90 days of free technical support and free data transfer to help people move their data over to a new machine. The promotion runs through June 15.

It's not clear how effective the promotion will be in killing off Windows XP since the people keeping the OS alive aren't just tech novices who need a website to tell them if they're running XP or not. The operating system is popular in schools because many districts buy refurbished computers that come installed with the software. Ten percent of federal government computers still use the software, according to The Washington Post. Forrester Research estimates that six percent of corporate computers will still be on XP come April, and small businesses in particular are likely to ignore Microsoft's pleas to upgrade. The oddest Windows XP diehards are ATMs—95 percent of the banking machines run on the ancient software. All these groups will be more susceptible to viruses and malware once Microsoft stops providing security updates for the software next month.

Microsoft may take further steps after they officially pull the plug on XP, such as a free or low-cost version of Windows 8.1 that is rumored to be in the works. Ultimately, though, the company may find itself in the same predicament in five years' time. The four-year-old Windows 7 is the most popular OS in the world right now, with a market share of nearly 50 percent.

Democrat: Report Clearing Gov. Christie Incomplete

Posted: 24 Mar 2014 10:31 AM PDT

(TRENTON, N.J.) — The head of a New Jersey legislative panel investigating a political payback plot says a review undertaken by Gov. Chris Christie’s lawyers lacks credibility because it is missing information from key players.

Assemblyman John Wisinewski (wis-NEW’-skee) says the lack of cooperation from ex-aides Bridget Kelly and Bill Stepien raises questions about the thoroughness of the report due out soon.

The New York Times is reporting that the review will clear Christie of involvement in the plot to manufacture traffic jams in Fort Lee, apparently to punish the town’s mayor for not endorsing Christie. Randy Mastro, the lawyer hired by Christie to lead the review, tells the newspaper that the governor handed over his iPhone and permitted his email accounts to be searched.

Criminal and civil investigations are ongoing.

This Quiz Tests Your Internet Abbrev. Knowledge

Posted: 24 Mar 2014 10:30 AM PDT

Some people speak in a foreign language made up entirely of acronyms, while others think FML might be shorthand for female. Luckily WPromote published a helpful quiz to Visual.ly to test where you fall on the internet abbreviation spectrum:

Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

OMG: oh my god, BRB: be right back, LOL: laugh out loud, TTYL: talk to you later, JK: just kidding, NP: no problem, LMFAO: laughing my f****** a** off, WTF: what the f***, POV: point of view, TMI: too much information, EOD: end of day, DL: down low, FML: f*** my life, MILF: mom I’d like to f***, DND: do not disturb, ROFL: rolling on floor laughing, LMK: let me know, IMHO: in my humble opinion, GMAB: give me a break, AFK: away from keyboard, TCB: taking care (of) business, TYVM: thank you very much, SMH: shake my head, EAD: eat a d***, WOW: world of warcraft, HTML: hypertext markup language, LAMP: Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP/Python/Perl (or look at me post), MMS: multimedia messaging service, CSS: counter-strike: source, WYSIWYG: what you see is what you get, MMORPG: massive multi-player role-playing game, LARP: live action role play, ASL: age sex location, WYWH: wish you were here, GNOC: get nude on cam, MOS: member (of the) opposite sex, FTF: first to find, BTDT: been there done that, FBTW: fine be that way, LAB: life’s a bitch

HAERTS’ “Call My Name” Is the Perfect AM Radio Dream: Listen

Posted: 24 Mar 2014 10:30 AM PDT

HAERTS won our hearts last year with their swooning, swirling Hemiplegia EP and their debut single “Wings.” Now the Brooklyn-based synth-pop group is back with the swirling “Call My Name,” the first track off their forthcoming not-yet-named full-length album.

The track is a soft-edged pop ode to love and loss that sounds like the band spent a lot of time listening to Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors, which is, of course, always a good thing. Now if there was only a John Hughes movie this could soundtrack…

While HAERTS’ full-length still doesn’t have a set release date, with such a solid string of releases behind them, we’ll start marking the days off on our calendar anyway.

MORE: REVIEW: Kylie Minogue Goes Chameleon on Kiss Me Once

MORE: 33 Of Your Favorite Bands Recreated With LEGOS

Arrest Warrant for Singer Anita Baker is Dismissed

Posted: 24 Mar 2014 10:20 AM PDT

(DETROIT) — A Michigan judge has dismissed an arrest warrant that had been issued for Grammy Award-winning singer Anita Baker.

A Wayne County Circuit judge had signed off on the warrant last week. It was sought by the lawyer for a company that says Baker owes it $15,000 for work done on her Grosse Pointe home.

According to WDIV-TV, Judge Edward Ewell said Monday that while the warrant has been dismissed, the lawsuit over the money will continue at a hearing in April.

Baker tells WXYZ-TV she’s grateful the judge lifted the warrant.

The singer’s lawyer has said Baker didn’t know she had been sued in 2011 by Ray A. Smith Painting & Decorating.

The company’s lawyer says he wants to see his client get paid for the work it did.

Teenager Reportedly Tried to Kill Himself Because He Wasn’t Satisfied With the Quality of His Selfies

Posted: 24 Mar 2014 10:14 AM PDT

You know those friends you have on Facebook or Instagram who seem like they could possibly be addicted — truly addicted — to taking selfies? Well, for most people, that compulsion is relatively harmless, but for 19-year-old Danny Bowman, it reportedly led to an attempted suicide.

The British teen spent up to 10 hours each day taking photos of himself on his iPhone, the Daily Mirror reports. The addiction became so debilitating that he dropped out of school and retreated into his home for six months.

“I was constantly in search of taking the perfect selfie and when I realized I couldn’t I wanted to die,” Bowman told the Daily Mirror. “I lost my friends, my education, my health and almost my life.”

He nearly overdosed on pills, but his mother intervened and helped keep him alive. Bowman’s case is extreme, yes, but psychiatrists are beginning to consider selfie addiction as a serious mental health issue.

Maybe we should all just stop taking selfies and solely use our smartphones for the truly important things, like pretending we’re texting to avoid saying hello to people.

Link Bubble App Is a Real Time-Saver for Android Users

Posted: 24 Mar 2014 09:52 AM PDT

For all the time I spend using Twitter, Facebook and Reddit on my phone, a lot goes to waste opening links and waiting for them to load.

It’s a problem that a new Android app called Link Bubble aims to solve.

Normally, if you open a link from an app such as Twitter, the app kicks you out to a web browser and opens the link in a new tab. With Link Bubble, you can keep looking through Twitter (or another app of your choosing) as the link loads in the background. A little button tells you when the page has finished loading, so you can open it at your leisure. The link then opens in a floating browser window, right on top of the app you’re in.

Being able to open a link without interrupting your current task is a huge time-saver. In fact, when you open the Link Bubble app, it shows you how much time you’re saving. I can see Link Bubble being especially useful for doing work on a tablet, as it would let you quickly reference a link without leaving your current app.

Chris Lacy

Link Bubble has some other nice touches to help manage links. Holding your finger down on the link button brings up quick options to save a link to Pocket, share it or dismiss it. Those sharing/saving options can be customized, so I’ve set up a way to quickly copy links to the clipboard instead of sending them to Pocket. The app also lets you review your entire link history, though you can disable this option. Opening links from certain apps, such as YouTube and Google Play, will not trigger Link Bubble, but you can change this behavior as well. The only thing you can’t do is have Chrome links open in Link Bubble, but in most cases you wouldn’t want that to happen anyway.

A limited version of Link Bubble is available for free. It handles links through a single app of your choosing, and lets you open one link at a time. The “Pro” version costs $5, and lets you open multiple links at once, using as many apps as you want.

My only major complaint with Link Bubble is that there’s no way to close individual links in the Pro version when you have several links open at once. (Or if there is a way, I haven’t found it.) The bubble animations could also be a little smoother, and I’d love to have a way to optionally open Chrome links within Link Bubble.

But overall, I’m already finding Link Bubble to be extremely useful. And as my pal JR Raphael points out, it’s the kind of app that isn’t possible on other mobile operating systems.

Wrathschild Make Epic ’80s Movie Pop With Debut Single “Fall Into Love”: Listen

Posted: 24 Mar 2014 09:51 AM PDT

Simon Curtis and Ro Danishei have been toiling as part of the Internet-driven pop underground for a half-decade, and while they've enjoyed a decent bit of success on their own — Curtis with two solo full-lengths, Danishei as a songwriter and former member of girl group Candy Coated Chaos — some of their best work has sprung from their collaboration. Capitalizing on that chemistry, the duo is making their strongest push yet for mainstream recognition as Wrathschild; the first fruit of their blossoming partnership is new single "Fall Into Love."

The first product of two years' worth of sessions with producer Ray Reich, "Fall Into Love" shines on the strength of its vocal performances, with Curtis' agile, powerful tenor darting around Danishei's sneering take. Their investment in the material, and the gravity of the song's sound, makes uncovering the wink at its heart that much funnier: once you hear them belting, "I want the real thing / Just like an '80s movie," there's no going back.

Hoyer Says It’s Crunch Time For a Grand Bargain

Posted: 24 Mar 2014 09:50 AM PDT

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer called on Congress Monday to lay the groundwork for a sweeping budget deal or risk seeing America's role as a global leader diminish.

"It's at this moment—when we don't have a crisis breathing down our necks—that we have the best chance to lay the groundwork for the hard decisions we will need to make," Hoyer said at an event sponsored by the centrist Democratic group Third Way in Washington. Hoyer, speaking in the stately Columbus Room at Union Station, said a grand bargain would be the "single most effective action" to stimulate the economy and possibly "the only way" to achieve long-term fiscal sustainability, as the political risk would be shared.

President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner have failed on multiple occasions to reach such a sweeping deal, and both have long since given up doing so for the rest of Obama’s time in office. The budget deal Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) pushed through Congress earlier this year removed billions of the across-the-board cuts for the so-called “sequester” over the next two years, but largely kept the status quo in the long-term, which satisfies neither Democrats nor Republicans.

“The groundwork for replacing the sequester should be laid before the Murray-Ryan deal expires,” Hoyer said. “Which is to say, soon.”

There is little chance that Congress will make substantial progress on the issue in a midterm election year. And the sides remain far apart on where the government should direct its funds. Hoyer said that interest payments on debt are increasingly crowding out investments in other areas—including Head Start and nutrition assistance—that Republicans largely oppose. Despite his push, Hoyer acknowledged that a grand bargain won’t happen in the next few months, and conceded uncertainly about what will happen over the next few years.

Obama’s proposed budget this year was largely seen as a political document meant to rile up the base in an election year. When asked why the President removed a measure known as chained consumer price index— which would measure inflation in such a way that would lower Social Security benefit levels—that he had included in previous years, Hoyer knocked Republicans for not taking an olive branch.

“He got no response,” said Hoyer. “Everything needs to be on the table.”

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