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Technology - All posts in category Technology

  • Jul 30, 2012
    1:59 PM ET

    Olympic Record: Workplace Viewing Wastes $650 Million

    Forget the narrow defeat suffered by the U.S. men’s swim team in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay over the weekend. Or that Jordyn Wieber, America’s best hope for all-around gold in female gymnastics, failed to even qualify for the event.

    When it comes to this Summer Olympics in London, the real loss may be felt much closer to home.

  • Jul 27, 2012
    1:21 PM ET

    Olympics to Test Mobile’s Mettle

    Could the Summer Olympics prompt a run on smartphones and iPads?

    It may sound like a stretch, but tech-industry insiders are saying that this year’s games, which are expected to draw billions of viewers, could boost mobile video’s status as the most important source for news, entertainment and, yes, sports since the advent of network and cable broadcasting. That’s because of the unprecedented commitment by a number of media outlets to cover and carry the London showcase in a format tailor-made for all manner of laptops, tablets and smartphones.

  • Jul 11, 2012
    10:59 AM ET

    Retailers Renew Email Blasts

    Never mind social media. Retailers have been increasingly turning to a relatively old-school weapon to reach more customers: e-mail.

    The number of emails retailers sent to customers jumped 20% in the first half of the year over the same period in 2011, according to a survey released this week by Responsys, a California-based marketing software company. In June alone, these stores sent an average of 18 emails per subscriber, up 21% on last year.

  • Jun 25, 2012
    5:58 PM ET

    Does it Pay to Airbrush Your Profile Photo?

    Generation Facebook may never grow old. New apps are making age-defying photo airbrushing techniques once reserved for celebrity magazine covers available instantly and inexpensively to just about anyone.

    Airbrushing computer software such as the $40 Portrait Professional and Magic Brush-Photo can create perfect, youthful complexions. Other Smartphone apps like Pimple Eraser — which has had two million downloads since its release last year — and Perfect Photo are less complex, but cost 99 cents to download. “Everyone is able to use the same marketing techniques that the big ad agencies used for decades to sell products,” says Vicky Oliver, author of The Millionaire’s Handbook. “Only in this case they are selling themselves.”

  • Jun 23, 2012
    2:25 PM ET

    Psychoanalyzing Facebook’s ‘Like’ Button

    Despite all the IPO hoopla, academic research suggests Facebook may be making more people crazy than rich.

    A slew of recent studies found the site causes some people to become depressed. And a new paper contends the site appeals to people with far more serious psychiatric problems.

    The latest study gives the thumbs down to the ubiquitous “like” button. In a soon-to-be-published study, Larry Rosen, professor of psychology at California State University and author of iDisorder: Understanding Our Obsession with Technology and Overcoming Its Hold on Us, evaluated 800 active Facebook members and found those who most often “like” other people’s activities on Facebook are more likely to show symptoms of “mania” and “compulsivity.” Rosen questioned his subjects about the frequency of their Facebook use and tested them for a range of psychological disorders.

  • Apr 6, 2012
    1:49 PM ET

    Do iPhones Make Us Narcissists?

    There’s no app for arrogance. Smartphone users don’t need one, says the author of a new book.

    Addiction to gadgets is a national malady, says Larry Rosen, whose book “iDisorder: Understanding Our Obsession with Technology and Overcoming Its Hold on Us,” relates the social and psychological consequences of dependence on iPhones, Androids and Blackberrys. The average teenager sends and receives 3,417 text messages per month, according to Nielsen, or between 7 and 8 per waking hour. In another 2011 study carried out by Rosen, he found younger people’s anxiety escalates when they check their messages.

    Stalking Facebook and Twitter causes people to become more depressed and more narcissistic, Rosen says. “Social networking is a predictor of many disorders,” he says. All the talk of “me, me, me” on Facebook suggests social networking has gone too far, he says. Studies also show that one-in-three Generation Xers and one-in-six baby boomers constantly check their devices. Rosen offers some solutions: write a status update or tweet, then take a break. If the words “me” or “I” appear more frequently than “we” or “us,” he says it might be worth re-writing or even deleting it.

    We spoke to Rosen about the increasingly tight grip technology has over Americans:

  • Apr 3, 2012
    4:58 PM ET

    Flying-Car Insurance May Cost $60,000

    After years of flying-car-envy from watching “The Jetsons” and “Back to the Future Part II,” drivers are months away from being able to buy their own. Experts say that insuring one, however, might be an even more futuristic challenge.

    Auto show attendees will get their first glimpse this week of Massachusetts-based Terrafugia’s Transition, a two-seat car with wings that fold out for flight. The company announced earlier this week that the vehicle completed its first flight — and could be on sale within a year. About 100 people already plunked down a deposit for the flying car, which is expected to sell for $279,000.

  • Mar 23, 2012
    9:37 AM ET

    Lost Phones Cost Americans $30 Billion a Year

    Every 3.5 seconds, someone in America loses a cell phone. And more often than not, it happens in a coffee shop, a new study says.

    All those absentminded moments add up to $30 billion in annual losses, the report, from mobile security company LookOut claims. And after cafes, the most common places people abandon their handsets are bars and offices.

    Night time seems to be the hours most phones get misplaced, the study found, given that some 67% of handsets are located between of 9pm and 2am. Chicago may be the exception, where church is the third most popular place to lose a phone (behind coffee shops and drugstores). Thomson Nguyen, data scientist at Lookout, says the trail of lost phones gives an insight into the social activities in various cities: New Yorkers, for example, lose most of their phones in fast-food restaurants. (In Dublin, it’s the pub.)

  • Mar 15, 2012
    4:56 PM ET

    iPads Get Faster, More Fragile

    A word of caution for those who like to carry their iPad around like a Chihuahua:  Each new version of Apple’s tablet is getting faster, but also more breakable, a new study suggests.

    Some 10% of iPad 2 owners reported a failure from accidental damage within the first 12 months of owning the device, compared to just under 3% of original iPad owners, according to insurance agent Square Trade, which analyzed data from 50,000 of customers. Though the durability of the new iPad is still untested, Vince Tseng, vice-president of marketing at SquareTrade, says that unless it has stronger glass, the trend of higher breakage rates will only continue with the new iPad. And all those butter fingers are expensive, since Apple doesn’t cover accidental damage without additional coverage.

  • Mar 12, 2012
    5:59 PM ET

    Casinos Bet on Cheap Hotel Rooms

    The odds of winning are improving at American casinos — at least when it comes to cheap hotel rooms.

    Competition for gambling dollars increased thanks to both the recession and more competition as many states legalized slots and table games, says Holly Wetzel, spokeswoman for the American Gaming Association. Since 2006, 71 new major casinos opened up around the country, she says. Towns like Atlantic City and Las Vegas, once had near monopolies, but now gambling is available within a three-hour drive of most metropolitan areas. This gambling glut is a boon for bettors, says Andrew Young, editor at TravelZoo.com. “Hotels may be willing to lose a bit of money on the room rate because they know people are going to spend money in the casinos and at shows and in restaurants,” he says. Average room rates in Atlantic City fell 28% to $62 this year from 2011 and dropped 6% to $99 in Las Vegas, according to Hotwire.com.

About Pay Dirt

  • Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to quentin.fottrell@dowjones.com or tweet @SMPayDirt.