Cellular Startups Using WiFi Hot Spots to Provide Service Instead of Cell Towers
Feb18

Cellular Startups Using WiFi Hot Spots to Provide Service Instead of Cell Towers

Americans spend about two hours a day on their mobile devices, and based on data from Statista, they’re consuming about 6.85 million gigabytes of data when they do. Considering how much major cell carriers charge per month for data packages — U.S. News reported that Verizon Wireless, the largest mobile carrier, charged about $148 per month on average in the fourth quarter of 2013 — such an exorbitant amount of mobile device usage is costing Americans a lot of money. Fortunately for the wired-in masses, two companies are on the forefront of an ambitious undertaking. Both Republic Wireless and FreedomPop are trying to reduce cellular costs by relying on strategically placed WiFi routers, and when none are available, smartphone users would fall back on the traditional cellular networks. FreedomPop, an L.A. company that was founded in 2012, works with companies who already offer WiFi hot spots, like the ones users might find in Starbucks, to create a massive Internet-driven phone network. For just $5 a month, FreedomPop gives its subscribers access to a network of 10 million WiFi hot spots a month, many of which aren’t normally open to the public. Some of its other plans use a combination of WiFi hot spots and Sprint’s cellular network. Republic Wireless, which is based in Raleigh, N.C., is similar. For only $5, subscribers can call and get online via WiFi, and for just $10 a month, they can use both WiFi and Sprint’s cellular network. Bandwidth.com, Republic Wireless’s parent company, developed a method of seamlessly moving calls between different cell towers and WiFi networks. The two companies are already profitable and adding subscribers every day. FreedomPop claims to be doubling its customer base every four to six months, and Republic Wireless says that its subscriber base is growing a whopping 13% each month. That being said, they’re still diminutive in comparison with the major carriers. Each company has hundreds of thousands of subscribers, while Verizon has more than 100 million. However, the idea is gaining traction with consumers — and catching the attention of other cellular carriers. Cablevision announced a new phone service that would be powered by WiFi last month, and would cost just $30 per month — a third of what the traditional wireless contract would cost. “WiFi first is a massive disrupter to the current cost structure of the industry,” FreedomPop’s chief executive Stephen Stokols told the New York Times. “That’s going to be a big shock to the...

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Philly Homeowners See Big Opportunity in Upcoming Pope Francis Visit
Feb12

Philly Homeowners See Big Opportunity in Upcoming Pope Francis Visit

The City of Brotherly Love is gearing up for an event that will put Kim and Kanye West’s tabloid shenanigans to shame: the Pope is coming to town. Some Philadelphians are finding a way to benefit from the pontiff’s highly anticipated visit by renting out their rooms, apartments, and even entire homes during the papal visit this fall, on Sept. 25 -27. More than two million people are expected to descend on Center City during the pope’s two-day visit, where he will be taking part in the World Meeting of Families conference. However, there’s only one small — or big, depending on how you look at it — problem: there are a mere 30,000 hotel rooms in the area, most of which are expected to be occupied by conference attendees. A recent NAIC national survey revealed that almost half — roughly 48% — of renters did not have an inventory of all their possessions. However, Philadelphia renters and homeowners may soon find themselves taking stock of their stuff as they prepare to open their doors to absolute strangers who need a place to stay during their pilgrimage. The lack of space creates an opportunity for city homeowners to offer visitors a place to stay for the right price. A survey of offerings posted to Airbnb and Craigslist revealed rates ranging from a cool $9,500 for a two-bedroom apartment in Washington Square West — known to locals as the Gayborhood — to an entire three-bedroom home in South Philly for $3,200. In addition to renting entrepreneurs, conference organizers are hopeful that more than 10,000 families will show some neighborly love by opening their homes to papal visitors through their sanctioned Homestay program. There is some gray area, however. Philadelphia’s city code prohibits homeowners from renting rooms or the entire house without first obtaining a House Rental License from the city’s Department of Licenses and Inspections. The cost of the license is $50, including an application which must be processed. Those renting properties with more than four units must first obtain a Commercial Activity License. Luckily, city officials take a different approach to short-term rentals, such as those for the Pope’s visit. “If you’re living in the house and it’s a one-time thing, generally it’s not a problem,” Licenses and Inspections Deputy Commissioner Ralph DiPietro explained. “If you don’t live there and you rent it on an ongoing basis, that becomes a...

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ShipYourEnemiesGlitter Made for Media
Feb11

ShipYourEnemiesGlitter Made for Media

Earlier this month, the website shipyourenemiesglitter.com burst forth onto the internet. For only $9.99, the creator of the website promised, he would anonymously ship a package of glitter to any person of your choosing — thereby ensuring that the recipient would be finding the notoriously hard-to-eradicate substance on their floors and in their possessions for months afterwards. Yet after receiving $20,000 in orders, the owner begged the internet to stop ordering the “glitter bombs,” then sold the entire business at auction for $85,000. So what was that all about? Mathew Carpenter is the man who was behind the whole thing. After making a New Year’s resolution to work on more side projects to improve his marketing skills, Carpenter experimented around before finding success with the glitter-shipping site. Remarkably, the only marketing tactics he used were one tweet, and one post to ProductHunt. From there, the story was picked up by dozens of online news sources and other websites. Because of the media hype surrounding shipyourenemiesglitter.com, the new owner can expect very few successful competitors. A Google search for the company yields 430,000 results, and should the new owner reopen shop, that number will grow thanks to reviews and reactions. Regardless of which keywords the new owner wishes to associate with the website, shipyourenemiesglitter.com will outrank most other sites in search engine results, simply due to the extensive media coverage it has received. One of the biggest lessons Carpenter has taken from this experience (aside from how messy glitter can make a living room) is that the media has become lazy. A few sources stated that Carpenter was a university student, which is untrue. Others asked questions, but didn’t wait for a reply. One source asked for verification of web traffic, and, when Carpenter provided it, published the article stating that he could not provide evidence of the enormous web traffic the site was receiving. Carpenter has remained positive, however, telling the New York Observer, “The great thing about this project, no matter how messy my place has gotten from the glitter, is that I’ve met a lot of really smart and creative people from it so hopefully I get to work with them on something cool moving...

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What Do Jay-Z, Bryan Cranston, and Lindsay Lohan Have in Common? Finger Tattoos, Of Course!
Feb10

What Do Jay-Z, Bryan Cranston, and Lindsay Lohan Have in Common? Finger Tattoos, Of Course!

As with most things in life, size doesn’t matter when it comes to tattoos. The age of large, easily visible tattoos is no more. Smaller tattoos are all the rage. Specifically, tattoos on one’s fingers are becoming a popular option for ink-lovers who want something modest but dignified. The Times of India reports that finger tattoos are the latest trend for tattoo-enthusiasts. Finger tattoos are small and simple, and they can easily be hidden or flaunted at will. At a time when tattoos can affect anything from social status to employment, having a discreet tattoo is an advantage many tattoo patrons covet — especially from the younger generation. Among other purposes, finger tattoos can serve as a permanent replacement for engagement and wedding rings. Tattoo artist Amar Mulge claims that much of his business comes from young couples. “I mostly get unmarried or just married young couples…between 20-25 years [of age] coming for finger tattoos,” Mulge said. “While [a] majority of them prefer inking names of their respective partners on fingers, a few have even inked their wedding date…” Young love aside, there are complications that come with getting a finger tattoo. Another tattoo artist, Jitendra Bharadwaj, says that finger tattoos are difficult to do given the small space to work with and the fingers’ sensitive skin. “It’s a very challenging task to create a tattoo on such a small space,” he said. “And because fingers have a thin layer of skin, getting tattooed there is a painful process as well.” “When it comes to tattooing on a finger,” he added, “I use fine needles of one or three round liner size. Strokes of the tattoo machine are short and the frequency is always kept low.” According to the Times, even celebrities have allotted tattoo space on their fingers. Famous actors and artists such as Jay Z, Beyonce, Lindsay Lohan, Bryan Cranston, Kelly Osbourne, Cara Delevingne, Lily Allen, and Paul McDonald are known to sport finger tattoos. Most recently, Katy Perry has jumped on the finger bandwagon. WSAV 3 News Station pointed out that Perry posted a photo on her Instagram page of her new Superbowl-themed tattoo the night after her performance at the Superbowl halftime show. She has a small “XLIX” tattoo on her right ring finger which commemorates her performance. “I thought it would be appropriate to draw blood tonight… XLIX,” she...

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How Gender and Financial State May Affect Sleep Apnea Diagnosis
Feb10

How Gender and Financial State May Affect Sleep Apnea Diagnosis

Sleep apnea, a sleep disorder which closes the airways during sleep, is thought to affect more than 18 million Americans, many of whom will struggle to get diagnosed. Though there are many reasons that people don’t get diagnosed, there seem to be two prevailing factors right now: money and gender. Testing for sleep apnea is notoriously expensive and usually requires an overnight stay in a lab. The process, which can cost as much as $3,000, requires a medical technician to attach wires to a person’s body and monitor them throughout the night. If a person’s insurance doesn’t cover the procedure, they may have to pay the entire cost out of pocket. Fortunately, there are a few alternatives to labs for potential sleep apnea patients. Several companies offer the option to order away for a testing kit, which patients can wear and sleep with in the comfort of their own home. The kit collects data, which the patient sends back to the company providing the kit. The company then provides an analysis, sometimes from a certified sleep physician, and the patient can choose where to go from there. Kits and other wearable home diagnosis items can cost anywhere from $100-$300, so they’re still not cheap, but they’re considerably less expensive than lab testing. Dr. Kelly Brown, Assistant Professor of Neurology and Sleep Medicine of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told ABC30 that she’s even seen an uptick in patients asking about sleep apnea as a result of wearable activity trackers like the Fitbit and Jawbone, that track sleep habits. Even with cheaper alternatives like home test kits, women may still have a hard time getting diagnosed. Sleep apnea is more prevalent in men, but since women exhibit different symptoms (like fatigue and headaches), they’re less likely to be diagnosed. According to Brown, approximately 15% of women have sleep apnea, but very few are actually diagnosed. Unfortunately, undiagnosed sleep apnea can lead to a four times greater risk of stroke and a three times greater risk of heart disease. Sleep apnea sufferers also run the risk of falling asleep at the wheel or having their mood affected by a lack of REM...

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