Category Archives: Shopping

The Phone Rings…

Actual real I swear transcript of phone call a minute ago:

[Phone Rings Twice]

Me: Hello?

[Silence on line]

Me: Hello?

[Silence on line]

Me (since this is 2nd such call in five minutes): This is tiresome.

[Loud beep on line]

Strange, possibly synthesized, voice: Goodbye.

[Call terminates]

sigh Maybe not even new?

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Beware the ‘Ghost Kitchen’

First it was fake small-batch bourbon, then fake craft beer, and now we have to look out for the Ghost Kitchens:

Enter the ghost kitchen—also called a virtual kitchen, virtual restaurant, cloud kitchen, or dark kitchen—a nascent internet-native business model that is spreading around the world.

When a virtual restaurant shows up in a delivery app, it may be indistinguishable from a brick-and-mortar pizza shop or mom-and-pop noodle joint, but it’s fundamentally different. The virtual restaurant is optimized for generating orders online and handing them to delivery drivers, and the name that’s advertised may not exist outside of the internet. Additionally, the menu and branding might have been created by a tech firm.


Sometimes a restaurant may advertise multiple menus under different names online but cook all the food out of one kitchen. That’s what was happening in April, when the story of one Philadelphia woman’s experience went viral. She had ordered from Pasqually’s Pizza & Wings on Grubhub, thinking she was supporting a local independent restaurant but then realized it was owned by and operated out of her local Chuck E. Cheese.

Modern life under capitalism requires eternal vigilance….

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Pixel One Battery Replacement is Possible!

One of the more annoying things about the Pixel 1, aside from the Google Assistant that I had to disable on privacy grounds, is that it’s a sealed case — so no way to replace the battery. This started to become an issue a few weeks ago. It wasn’t just that battery life had gotten noticeably worse, you expect that after a couple of years, it was that the battery would go from c.20% to dead without any warning.

It turns out, however, that there’s an entire chain of Google-certified phone repair joints with the silly name of ubreakifix that will replace the battery in a Pixel in a couple of hours for about $80. That’s a lot cheaper than buying a new phone. I was afraid the thing would have horrible scars from being pried open, but no. “We have tools” the tech told me smugly, and it indeed there’s no sign the case has been opened, but battery life is 50% greater than it was last week.

So now I’m likely good until Google orpahans the phone, which could come as soon as in October, at which point supposedly they’ll stop doing patches for it. The idea of course is to make me buy a new phone. Sadly, it will probably work. I hope the Pixel 4 is better than the Pixel 3 or I may to switch to Samsung.

Posted in Shopping, Sufficiently Advanced Technology | 4 Comments

Mall Report

Circumstances led me to go to Dadeland Mall this Saturday evening. It was to be the first time in many years that I set foot in what was once (and for all I know may still be) the most profitable mall per square foot in the US of A.

I expected that on a Saturday night things would be nice and peaceful. Boy was I wrong.

When I arrived at about 8:30pm, the parking lot was jammed. It took me maybe 15 minutes to find a parking space, although some of that was just spent idling in a jam caused by a big pickup truck that was blocking the lane as it waited for someone else to exit a spot and then slowly eased into it.

I did find a spot eventually, but once in the actual Mall it became obvious that I’d parked on exactly the wrong end of it. The walk from one end to the other allows me to report first, that there are a lot more high-end shops than I remember from when I used to shop there occasionally lo these may years ago and, second, that the Mall was jammed with people.

Who goes to Dadeland on a Saturday night? There were a number of young people, but they were outnumbered by adults. I have no idea why that is: Is the economy actually booming? Is it something about the back-to-school tax holiday this week (but that only applies to school supplies)? Is it the air conditioning? Is it tourists? Is there nothing better to do in Miami on a Saturday night in August?

Anyway, I ran my errand, and retraced my steps. Getting out was easier than getting in.

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Reducing Your Amazon Info-Footprint

This useful article 5 Amazon obscure settings you should change now, from of all places Fox News, has some good advice. I also think it has one error.

In #4 it says you can “stop Amazon from tracking your browsing” but in fact, if you go to the “Your Browsing History” page at Amazon, it appears to offer only to stop showing you your browsing history–it doesn’t actually say they’ll stop collecting it.

Even so, most or all of these steps are worth taking.

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Odd Bedfellows

In my effort to avoid starting grading, I followed a link from Lifehacker to Amazon’s sale of a white-noise machine. I was somewhat surprised to see what Amazon paired it with:

I suppose sleeping better makes you a better worker/investor/whatever thus perhaps increasing your odds of becoming a billionaire from almost zero to …. still almost zero?

Didn’t buy the machine as I don’t think it makes a good gift, although the $35 price seemed very reasonable.

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