What We’re Reading: Nov 29-Dec 5

Rollercoaster Open House, Starbucks, Marsala, and Amazon

Now this is the kind of open house I can get behind. An agent in the Netherlands created a roller coaster through one of his listings as a way to get the public to view it.

In another sign that technology is only making us more isolated, Starbucks is testing a system where you can order and pay for a coffee on your smart phone so you don’t have to talk to a barista. I can see that it will save time, but will you be able to specify half-caff, double soy, 1-pump, skinny latte? And will typing that all in actually be a time saver?

It may not be a time saver, but Starbucks latest holiday promotion of Win Free Starbucks for Life would be a money saver for sure. There will be 14 winners around the world (10 in the US). To get the details without having to squint at the fine print, check out Time‘s recap. Apparently ‘for life’ really is just 30 years…

The end of the year is near and here come the “Best of” lists. First out of the block is the New York Times‘ 100 Notable Books of 2014. I hate to say it, but I haven’t gotten to any of them yet…

Today’s marketing strategies aren’t dreamed up in smoky rooms full of Mad Men. The tools companies employ to get you to buy their stuff have grown ever more sophisticated. Research determines the ads you see, the scents and sounds you encounter in stores, even the way a salesperson might casually touch your arm. It’s not all high-tech brain science, but here are some of the tricks companies use to entice you to spend more.

Marsala‘ is 2015’s official Pantone Color of the Year. However some critics are less than impressed, saying the color is pretty blah. Get ready for muted wine-colored everything.

While elevator design has progressed over the years, it still comes down to a box on a cable, moving up and down in a column. Now one of the big players in the industry, ThyssenKrupp, has come up with an idea for a cable-free elevator. The new design allows the elevator to move not only up and down, but from side to side. That means more elevator cabins can be on one track speeding up wait times. The concept is still being tested, but could be deployed in the next few years.

6 times you should use a credit card instead of a debit card. To my mind the question is when should you use a debit card at all?

Online sales used to be a new thing – well, 20 years ago maybe. And with the thought of encouraging their growth most of them were beyond the reach of sales tax. Internet sales have boomed and now make up a substantial portion of retail trade. States have been increasingly concerned about all that lost revenue. It seems like the fight over online sales tax comes up every year, but now it appears a tipping point is near. Engadget takes a look at the current state of affairs and maps why it matters to you.

And because they want a finger in EVERYONE’S business, Amazon is launching a rival food take-out delivery service to GrubHub. So far it’s only live in Seattle and with a select group of restaurants. And I’m guessing you already pay tax on that…

Speaking of Amazon, Time has a great video of how the company uses robots to transport items in its warehouse. Follow a cute stuffed bear from arrival to storage to packaging and onto the truck. It’s a really beautiful ballet of machines, humans, conveyor belts and slides, though I’m guessing it’s significantly more busy at this time of year.

You’ve heard of Ugly Holiday Sweater contests, but why stop there? Shinesty, a retro clothing brand that prides itself on creating “the most outlandish collection of clothing the world has ever seen,” has lived up to that mission with its new line of Ugly Christmas Sweater Suits. Unfortunately, they’re all sold out for this year…

Beginning later this month, New York City residents will be able to check out portable wireless Internet hubs free of charge at their local library branch, city officials said. Sponsored in part by Google, of course.

DJ Earworm has come out with his annual mashup of the year in pop music 2014. How many of these songs do you recognize?


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  1. Thanks for the keeping me up to date on the latest social news, I really enjoyed watching the video of the real estate agent from the Netherlands that made a roller coaster to entice potential buyers to purchase to attend their open house. This is good reminder that real estate agents need to find creative ways to market the homes that they are selling .