Category Archives: Cloud Computing

White House Secrets Top This Week's Internet News Roundup

Boy, oh boy. Technically, thanks to Labor Day, this past week was shorter work-wise than most. That said, the internet never takes a day off, so it was just as full as the rest. Think we’re kidding? We’re not. As proof, here’s a series of unrelated tweets that represent just a fraction of what people were talking about online over the last seven days:

Hungry for more? Read on.

Fear and All Kinds of Loathing in Washington, DC

What Happened: The newest Trump administration tell-all book might be the biggest—or, at least, the most all-telling, and the most reliably true—one yet. Needless to say, it didn’t come and go without causing some drama.

What Really Happened: It’s been a few weeks since Omarosa’s book grabbed headlines, so clearly it’s time to start thinking about another White House tell-all. This time around, it’s possibly the motherlode: Fear: Trump in the White House is the upcoming release from legendary journalist Bob Woodward, and it’s been breathlessly anticipated by everyone who figured that Woodward would have the true story about what is going on in President Trump’s administration. And with the release just a week away, this happened:

Yes, the Washington Post got its hands on the book early, and let’s just say that the review—such as it was—suggested that this would be everything people wanted and more.

The first excerpts to be released were juicy, to say the least.

And, it turned out, it wasn’t just the Post that got an early copy.

Let’s just say that a lot of people found what was shared to be a little alarming.

Others were more alarmed (or, at least, surprised) by the lack of pushback from the White House over the release of the excerpts and the response they were generating.

As should only have been expected, that didn’t last.

And, of course, it wasn’t too long before the president got in on the action.

There’s only one problem with taking the attitude that you can just pretend this stuff isn’t real: This book comes from Bob Woodward. He really doesn’t half-ass or fictionalize. He’s the real deal, as could be seen by his wonderfully old-school reply to the denials.

Perhaps the oddest part of the whole thing may have been an 11-minute call between Woodward and Trump, which was recorded and then released by the Post.

Seriously, though: If this is just what’s coming from the pre-release hype, imagine what the actual book will be like.

The Takeaway: If nothing else, this whole kerfuffle has proven once again that, for the current President of the United States, there’s no such thing as bad publicity, even when it’s clearly bad publicity.

The Op-Ed Is Coming from Inside the House

What Happened: Bypassing the need for reporters and anonymous sources, the New York Times published an op-ed by an unnamed White House staffer about the goings-on in the current administration.

What Really Happened: As if the Woodward book didn’t make the White House look unruly enough, there was a pretty dramatic second development on Wednesday that was … well, dramatic, all things considered.

The piece was titled, with wonderful overstatement, “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration“—although, as the actual piece explained, “To be clear, ours is not the popular ‘resistance’ of the left. We want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous”; instead, it argued, “there is a quiet resistance within the administration of people choosing to put country first”—and it was, to put it mildly, quite a read.

It should be pointed out that plenty of people were unconvinced by the central premise of the piece.

As further proof that the White House might not be at the top of its game, the publication of the essay appeared to come as a complete surprise to people within the administration, as the by-the-second tick-tock of Twitter revealed.

…It took, apparently, one hour and 31 minutes to formulate a response, judging by the timestamp on the following. Just in case you’re curious.

But what is a response from the White House these days without some extemporaneous riffing from President Trump? As you might expect, he treated this extraordinary event with the nothing but the gravitas and reflection it truly deserved.

There was another, equally obvious, outcome of the whole thing: lots and lots of speculation about who wrote it. Reportedly, the search for the author of the piece combined with the search for those who spoke to Bob Woodward for Fear, is likely creating a very unhappy atmosphere in the White House.

The fact that the Times op-ed editors granted the writer anonymity was deemed troublesome by many, though the reasons why varied from person to person.

While some people had some cunning plans for finding out who was responsible—

—others believed that the identity of the author wasn’t entirely mysterious in the first place, as this much-shared thread on Twitter made clear.

For what it’s worth, Mike Pence denies writing it, which … I mean, he would, wouldn’t he? That’s just what you’d expect him to do. Wait, now I’m getting all paranoid.

The Takeaway: One of the surprising takeaways from the whole thing was just how ready social media was to publish parodies of the piece, complete with any number of pop culture references…

Justice Brett Is So Close to Happening

What Happened: Last week everyone got to meet Brett Kavanaugh, the next Supreme Court justice (probably). As far as meet-cutes went, let’s just say that the Senate and Brett had particularly awkward rom-com rockiness to deal with.

What Really Happened: While all of the above was unfolding, there was a parallel track of intrigue happening in the confirmation hearing for potential Supreme Court judge Brett Kavanaugh, which turned out to be anything but dull. Even before the hearing began, people were excited, and not just because an amazing 42,000 pages of documentation were released just hours before the first day of the hearing began. Why, there was even cosplay.

Things got off to an amazing start. Or, at least, certainly not a boring one.

Oh, but the controversy of the day wasn’t just about what the Senators were saying, as it turned out.

As if the video didn’t disprove the White House version of events, Fred Guttenberg offered his take on what had happened, which was (of course) disputed by the White House.

To the surprise of literally no one, this became a media story pretty quickly. But, wait! That’s not all! On the very same day—this is still just the first day of the hearings, remember—there was also the idea that one of Kavanaugh’s staff was flashing a white power sign behind him for the entire hearing.

Thankfully, this was something that was very quickly put to rest on social media even before it had time to set in.

Bash’s husband took to Twitter to complain.

We’d love to be able to say that, after such a tumultuous first day, the hearings settled down into a nuanced discussion moving forward, but the second day brought up potential hacking connections and confusion over whether he’d been consulted over the Mueller probe, and the third had conflict over documents concerning race, whether or not Roe v. Wade is “settled law,” his inability to condemn Trump’s attacks on judges, and if he’d lied during his 2004 confirmation hearings for the DC Circuit Court. This one, it seems, is going to run and run. But don’t worry, Kavanaugh fans; he’s still likely to be confirmed no matter what.

The Takeaway: If nothing else, Twitter displayed its ability to keep everyone on-topic as the first day of the hearings drew to a close.

InfoVictory May Have Been Declared After All

What Happened: Ding-dong, Alex Jones’ social media career is dead, now that he’s been officially kicked off of Twitter.

What Really Happened: It took a very long time, but guess what? Alex Jones has, a month after being removed from YouTube, Facebook, and Pinterest, also been banned by Twitter.

Many people wondered why it was only now that Jones—who had already seemingly violated the platform’s terms of conduct—was removed. Let’s just say that he gave Twitter a lot of reasons in the 24 hours before his banning.

There’s actual video of this here, originally streamed by Jones and InfoWars on Periscope. It’s somewhat astounding. And then, of course, there was this, but you knew about this photo already.

Of course, Jones being banned from his final mainstream outlet was big news—but more than a few people were suspicious about just what exactly led to Jones’ removal, and how close to home it hit for the social network.

As much as we might want to focus on the Jack Dorsey of it all—and that’s saying nothing about that beard—we really, really, shouldn’t forget [gesturing wildly] all of this, either.

Perhaps we’ll never know what the real reason for Jones’ removal was. Then again, perhaps it doesn’t even really matter.

The Takeaway: Maybe this should just be the start of a multi-pronged effort on behalf of Twitter. Some folks are already offering up suggestions for next steps, after all.

Just Do It to Yourself

What Happened: Nike extended its deal with Colin Kaepernick, the NFL quarterback who famously took a knee during the National Anthem to protest police violence, and everything you might have expected to come as a result happened.

What Really Happened: The ever-controversial subject of NFL protests returned to the fore last week with the news that Colin Kaepernick is the face of Nike’s next wave of “Just Do It” commercials. Kaepernick announced the deal with Nike via Twitter.

It was, as Nike surely hoped, a muchreportedupon deal—and a lucrative one, too.

Whatever the value of the deal, maybe we should take a second to appreciate that Nike is standing up for someone seemingly abandoned by those in his chosen career.

Well, maybe don’t get too excited…

This just in: This issue is a particularly complicated one. Nonetheless, surely it’s good to see someone stand behind Kaepernick, right? Turns out, not everyone thought so.

The so-called boycott didn’t impress everyone, however.

Presumably, Nike wasn’t impressed by—but may have been, perhaps, thankful for—the protests, considering that estimates suggested the news raised $43 million in media exposure for the company in just one day. Curiously, while Nike stock is down 2 percent at the time of this writing, it is also gaining popularity and expected to continue doing so.

The Takeaway: No matter how nuanced the idea of a Nike deal may be, considering the company’s own practices, let’s take a brief moment to enjoy how utterly un-nuanced the enjoyment of ridiculous protests that ultimately both miss the point and serve no purpose can be.


More Great WIRED Stories

This Week in the Future of Cars: What Happened at Tesla, Uber, and Chevy this week

We’re going fast…somewhere. This week was full of people and corporations making market-moving decisions. Not all seemed wise. Elon Musk did a 2.5-hour live interview, got peer pressured into smoking a blunt, and maybe didn’t inhale. Mercedes has a fully electric SUV coming out, and Chevy is prepping the country’s serious haulers for the intro of its beefy new pickup. A company that specializes in bus trips took an interesting detour into sleep technology. It’s been a weird week! Let’s get you caught up.

Headlines

  • Late Thursday evening, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk gave a rare live interview to eminent podcaster and comedian Joe Rogan. It was classic Elon, transportation editor Alex Davies observes: thinky, a little awkward, goofy, full of weed jokes (and a touch of actual weed). But that sheer force of personality may not be enough to guarantee the electric carmaker’s future anymore.
  • Even so, it’s very hard to imagine a Tesla without Musk. It will probably take an even more dramatic incident for the loyalists on the company’s board to take a hard line with the self-christened “business magnet.”
  • Aurora, the little-known supergroup made up of autonomous vehicle technology pioneers, is finally talking. Alex chats with Waymo veteran and Aurora CEO Chris Urmson on why the startup will be smarter about machine learning than its competition, and how close its tech is to being able to do everything a human can.
  • One year into his role as CEO of Uber, Dara Khosrowshahi reflects—and introduces a new suite of safety features.
  • One Montana startup is using Doppler lidar—the same tech that cops use to catch speeding drivers—to create colorful images that just might give cars a better (and safer) sense of what is gong on around them.
  • As part of a string of electrifying announcement from major automakers, Mercedes-Benz unveils its first fully electric SUV. This one comes with an 80-kWh lithium-ion battery, an estimated 279 mile-per-charge range (according to the New European Driving Cycle testing protocol), and a top speed of 112 mph.
  • There are monster trucks, and then there’s Chevy’s new ZR2 Bison pickup truck. Senior writer Jack Stewart has the details on the off-roading, desert-running behemoth, a perfect rig for people who really, truly need to haul a lot of stuff.
  • WIRED contributor Eric Adams takes a trip to West Africa to hang out with the Diplomatic Security Service. Never heard of ‘em? They’re the Postal Service meets Mission Impossible: 103 couriers who carry top secret mail between US State Department hubs. Quoth Eric: “Snow, rain, heat, or gloom of night? Try war, ebola, diplomatic ejection, or military coup.”
  • If an overnight trip on a bus sounds unappealing, the team at the startup Cabin would like to introduce you to their new snoozing tech. The company’s vehicles—which take near-daily trips between San Francisco and LA—are already stocked with 23 sets of pillows, blankets, night lights, and bunk beds. It now hopes to outfit the buses with bump-cancelling mattress mechanisms, for a smoother ride and night.
  • What happens if the Bay Area doesn’t solve its housing and transportation problems? More for the rich, and even less for the poor, probably. A local urban policy think tank explores the ways the region could fix its issues in the next 70 years—and the ways it could bungle them.

Bike Lane Propaganda of the Week

Bike lanes are great, but you know what’s even greater? Protected bike lanes. This Vox video explores what happened when New York got smarter about building them. (Spoiler: good stuff.)

[embedded content]

All hail the protected bike lane.

Stat of the Week

70%

Portion of ride-hailing trips that were completed in Asia alone in 2017. The next biggest markets were North America and Latin America; only 5 percent of trips were completed in Western Europe due to stricter regulation. (Via ABI Research)

Required Reading

News from elsewhere on the internet

In the Rearview

Essential stories from WIRED’s past

A look back at 2016 finds the top reason startups fail: running a hardware business is super hard.


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Tesla's Musk smokes marijuana on comedy podcast

(Reuters) – Tesla’s Elon Musk provoked another twitter storm on Friday by briefly smoking marijuana on a live web show with comedian Joe Rogan.

Elon Musk in Bel Air, Los Angeles, California, U.S. May 17, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

The forty-seven year old billionaire spent two and a half hours on a podcast late Thursday discussing everything from artificial intelligence and its impact on humankind to flame throwers and social media.

Taking a puff from a joint – which Rogan said was a blend of tobacco and marijuana and legal in California – Musk said he “almost never” smoked.

“I’m not a regular smoker of weed,” Musk said. “I don’t actually notice any effect…I don’t find that it is very good for productivity.”

Tesla was not immediately available for comment.

Musk stunned investors a month back with tweets saying he had funding to take the company private for $420 per share. He then backed off from his plan saying Tesla was better off as a public company.

He followed it up with fresh attacks on British cave diver Vernon Unsworth. Buzzfeed News reported earlier in the week that Musk, in an email to the news site, called Unsworth a “child rapist.”

Neither Tesla nor Musk have commented on the Buzzfeed report.

Musk apologized to Unsworth in July for similar insults he made on Twitter following the rescue of a dozen Thai schoolboys and their football coach from a cave in Thailand.

The billionaire’s behavior has raised concerns about his leadership and several Wall Street analysts have called for the company to appoint a strong No. 2 to prop up Tesla’s operations and standing with investors.

His followers on Twitter went into a frenzy following the podcast. Several followers questioned if it was against the company’s policy, while others mocked the CEO’s initial $420 bid, a number that has become code for marijuana.

“Elon getting high on weed and whiskey is the first reason to go long on $TSLA in a while. He needs to relax a bit,” a tweet bit.ly/2M5PdAo by user @jkmcnk said.

Another user tweeted bit.ly/2MT7aY4: “This guy is completely off the rails.”

Shares of Tesla fell 1.3 percent in trading before the bell. They have fallen about 18 percent since Musk’s tweet on taking the company private on Aug. 7.

Reporting by Nivedita Balu and Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru; Writing by Sweta Singh

Toyota says in talks with Geely on cooperation in hybrid vehicle tech

BEIJING (Reuters) – Toyota Motor Corp said on Thursday it is in talks with Chinese automaker Geely about cooperation in gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle technology, but nothing has been decided on the matter.

The Toyota logo is shown at the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, California, U.S., November 30, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake

The move comes as Japan’s biggest automaker has been increasingly embracing new automotive technologies for future growth, and has also embarked on a strategy to ramp up sales in China, the world’s biggest auto market.

Toyota said in a statement to Reuters that it and Geely are currently “communicating with each other” about gasoline-electric hybrid technology.

It was not immediately clear in what aspects of the hybrid technology Geely and Toyota are discussing cooperating.

A person familiar with the matter, however, said that the talks apparently involve a Chinese supplier of electric battery technology both companies have already been associated with but separately. Toyota declined to comment on the specifics of the cooperation.

“Toyota has been conducting the business with the open policy which also applies to the area of electrification technologies. The relationship with Geely (Toyota is exploring) is also based on this open policy,” the statement said.

Toyota’s response comes after a Chinese media report said Geely was working with Toyota on the conventional hybrid technology. The report said details on the joint effort would be announced soon.

A Geely spokesman declined to comment.

Toyota, which bet big on gasoline-electric hybrid technology in the late 1990s when it began selling the Prius hybrid, has since localized production of conventional hybrid cars in China and has been selling them here since 2015 under the Corolla and Levin names.

The company has said it plans to sell plug-in hybrid versions of the Corolla and the Levin next year.

Reporting By Norihiko Shirouzu; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

United Airlines is Offering One Passenger an Incredible Perk. But Will That Passenger Accept It?

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

People look gift horses in the mouth all the time.

That horse could, after all, be Trojan and you never know what might lurk inside.

There are those, however, who truly deserve a real gift just because of who they are.

United Airlines wants to hear about those people and it wants to meet one of them in particular.

No, it doesn’t want to offer that person the job of company president.

United’s idea in this instance is to find the hardest-working person in America and send them to Tahiti for a few days.

As a little message that says: “You’re working too hard, silly. Please get a life or you’ll die.”

This little prize seems well worth winning. 

It consists of a roundtrip airfare from your hometown to Tahiti — via San Francisco — for two.

In Business Class, no less.

There are three stays, totaling seven nights, at various alluring Tahiti hotels.

And, just to make your return to life all the more meaningful, you get a $2,000 prepaid card for meals and other expenses.

Should you be honest enough to admit you’re not the most hard-working person in America, you might choose to nominate the person who is.

It’s likely one of the people who do most of your work for you, never complain and never ask for a raise.

These days, United is desperately trying to show it has a heart. Or at least, to offer the appearance. 

It offers a valuable argument by revealing that 700 million vacations days go unused every year.

Is it because people love their jobs so much that they don’t bother? Or is it, perhaps, that they’re too frightened in case their jobs disappears or is taken over by someone else?

I only have one slight worry about this well-meaning search — timed to coincide with United starting to fly nonstop from San Francisco to Tahiti.

What if the winner is someone who really is the hardest-working person in America and is one of those impossibly strange characters who really doesn’t want a vacation?

Can a boss force an employee to go to Tahiti? 

Now that would be a fascinating topic for Human Resources lawyers.

Amazon eyes Chilean skies as it seeks to datamine the stars

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Amazon.com is in talks with Chile to house and mine massive amounts of data generated by the country’s giant telescopes, which could prove fertile ground for the company to develop new artificial intelligence tools.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of the web service Amazon is pictured in this June 8, 2017 illustration photo. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso/Illustration/File Photo

The talks, which have been little reported on so far and which were described to Reuters by Chilean officials and an astronomer, are aimed at fuelling growth in Amazon.com Inc’s cloud computing business in Latin America and boosting its data processing capabilities.

President Sebastian Pinera’s center-right government, which is seeking to wean Chile’s $325 billion economy from reliance on copper mining, announced last week it plans to pool data from all its telescopes onto a virtual observatory stored in the cloud, without giving a timeframe. The government talked of the potential for astrodata innovation, but did not give details.

The government did not comment on companies that might host astrodata in the computing cloud.

Amazon executives have been holding discussions with the Chilean government for two years about a possible data center to provide infrastructure for local firms and the government to store information on the cloud, an official at InvestChile, the government’s investment body, told Reuters.

For at least some of that time, the talks have included discussion about the possibility of Amazon Web Services (AWS), hosting astrodata, astronomer Chris Smith said, based on email exchanges he was part of between AWS and Chilean Economy Ministry officials over the last six months. Smith was at the time mission head of AURA observatory, which manages three of the U.S. federally-funded telescope projects in Chile.

Jeffrey Kratz, AWS’s General Manager for Public Sector for Latin American, Caribbean and Canada, has visited Chile for talks with Pinera. He confirmed the company’s interest in astrodata but said Amazon had no announcements to make at present.

“Chile is a very important country for AWS,” he said in an email to Reuters. “We kept being amazed about the incredible work on astronomy and the telescopes, as real proof points on innovation and technology working together.”

“The Chilean telescopes can benefit from the cloud by eliminating the heavy lifting of managing IT,” Kratz added.

AWS is a fast-growing part of Amazon’s overall business. In July it reported second-quarter sales of $6.1 billion, up by 49 percent over the same period a year ago, accounting for 12 percent of Amazon’s overall sales.

STAR-GAZING TO SHOP-LIFTING

Chile is home to 70 percent of global astronomy investment, thanks to the cloudless skies above its northern Atacama desert, the driest on earth. Within five years, the South American country will host three of the world’s four next-generation, billion-dollar telescopes, according to Smith.

He and Economy Ministry officials leading the Chilean initiative to store astrodata in the cloud saw potential in more Earth-bound matters.

The particular tools developed for the astrodata project could be applicable for a wide variety of other uses, such as tracking potential shop-lifters, fare-evaders on public transport and endangered animals, Julio Pertuze, a ministry official, told Reuters at the event announcing Chile’s aim to build a virtual observatory on the cloud.

Smith added that the same technology could also be applied to medicine and banking to spot anomalies in large datasets.

Amazon, whose founder and largest shareholder Jeff Bezos is well known for his interest in space, already provides a cloud platform for the Hubble Telescope’s data and the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research in Australia.

As Amazon explores the potential in Chile’s astrodata, tech rival Google, owned by Alphabet Inc, is already a member of Chile’s Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, which will be fully operational in Cerro Pachon in 2022. Google also has a data center established in the country.

Justin Burr, senior PR associate for AI and Machine learning at Google, declined to comment on any Google plans around astrodata or its involvement in other telescope projects.

Separately, a Google spokeswoman said last week that the company will announce expansion plans for its Chilean data center on Sept. 12.

GIANT DATABASE

Smith said that what the Chileans are calling the Astroinformatics Initiative – to harness the potential of astrodata – could enable Amazon Web Services access to the research that astronomers are doing on projects like the LSST.

“We are going to have to go through a huge database of billions of stars to find the three stars that an astronomer wants,” Smith said, adding that was not too different from searching a database of billions of people to find the right profile for a targeted advertisement.

“So a tool that might get developed in LSST or the astronomical world could be applicable for Amazon in their commercial world.”

Since speaking to Reuters, Smith has moved on from his job heading AURA to a new position at the U.S. National Science Foundation.

Amazon’s role in the astrodata project would also give it an entry into a market where it is seeking to expand. Amazon – which controls nearly one-third of the global cloud computing business, ahead of rivals Microsoft Corp and Google – has struggled to lure public institutions in Latin America, including research facilities, to store their data online instead of on physical machines.

AWS declined to provide any information on the size of its regional business in Latin America.

Economy Minister Jose Ramon Valente said at last week’s announcement, “Chile has enormous potential in its pristine skies not only in the observation of the universe but also in the amount of data that observation generates.”

Reporting by Cassandra Garrison; Additional reporting by Jeffrey Dastin and Aislinn Laing; Editing by Daniel Flynn and Frances Kerry

China's Didi to halt some mainland services in new safety measures

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing said on Tuesday it will halt some late-night services in mainland China including taxi and ride-hailing operations between Sept 8 and Sept 15 as part of their steps to improve safety.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Chinese ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing is seen at their new drivers center in Toluca, Mexico, April 23, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso/File Photo

Didi also said in a statement it will upgrade its police hotline function for customers and its investments for customer service.

The firm has been under mounting pressure from regulators and consumers after a 20-year-old passenger was murdered by her Didi driver in August. Another passenger was killed by a driver in May.

Reporting by Beijing Monitoring Desk; editing by Jason Neely

Want to Feel Happier? 57 Proven Moments That Will Make Your Day Feel Wonderful

I’m writing this article after having a really fantastic day–away at the beach for Labor Day with my family. But of couse, not every day is so great. That’s why I was interested recently to find a survey about the little things that people say make them look back at night and feel very grateful for their days. 

This comes to us via a survey by the US Highbush Blueberry Council, in which they asked 2,000 Americans to let them know the little things they say they can always count on to make their days feel better.

They came up with 40 individual items. They’re good, but I felt like there were some pretty obvious additional ones that weren’t on the list. Besides, who couldn’t use a few additional ways to improve their day? So here are 57 top ways things that make people feel better at the end of the day.

The ones with a percentage come from the Blueberry Council. The ones with an “(M)” at the end are my non-scientific additions. If you have others to list, please let us know in the comments!  

  1. Finding money in your pocket you didn’t know you had 58%
  2. Being able to sleep in with no alarm set 55%
  3. Reaching a personal best on a hobby or pastime (M)
  4. Lying in bed listening to rain fall outside 51%
  5. Realizing that your favorite clothes are clean and ready to wear (M)
  6. A small gesture of kindness from somebody in your life 49%
  7. Petting a dog 48%
  8. Seeing a good photo of yourself, posted on social media or elsewhere (M)
  9. Performing a small gesture of kindness for somebody in your life 47%
  10. Realizing it’s a beautiful, sunny day 46%
  11. Long, hot shower 44%
  12. Being paid a (non-creepy) compliment by a stranger (M)
  13. A meaningful, long hug from somebody you love 42%
  14. Seeing a friend you haven’t seen in a long time 42%
  15. Having the chance to recommend a book or music to someone (M)
  16. The first sip of coffee of the day 41%
  17. Realizing that you forgot to do something–but it didn’t matter anyway (M)
  18. Plopping down on your bed after a long, tiring day 40%
  19. Walking into an air-conditioned building on a hot day 40%
  20. Baked treats (i.e. fresh blueberry pie) 40%
  21. Listening to your favorite album 37%
  22. Making a project or meal that turns out great (M)
  23. Watching the sunset or sunrise 37%
  24. Having a meeting you didn’t want to attend canceled (M)
  25. Holding hands with someone you love 36%
  26. Getting new clothes 35%
  27. Cuddling your partner before getting up to start your day 34%
  28. Cuddling with your pet after a long day 33%
  29. Waking up to birds chirping 33%
  30. Realizing your clothes fit especially well (M)
  31. Petting a cat 33%
  32. Exceptionally good, shall we say, bathroom experience (M)
  33. Cooking your favorite meal 31%
  34. Happening across a smell you enjoy, from cookies to the smell of rain 31%
  35. Exchanging a genuine smile with a stranger 31%
  36. Sunlight on your skin 31%
  37. Getting a new haircut 30%
  38. Realizing that you’d already done things on your to-do list (M)
  39. Realizing something you enjoy but thought was bad for you is actually healthy and good. (M)
  40. Finding a good new book to read 29%
  41. Having a pleasant conversation with a total stranger 28%
  42. Hearing someone apologize to you (M)
  43. Meeting a new person you genuinely like 28%
  44. Eating a healthy food that makes you feel good about yourself 28%
  45. Realizing you know the answer to a question everyone is asking (M)
  46. Long soak in the tub 27%
  47. Going to the movies 27%
  48. Having an especially good workout (M)
  49. Receiving a bouquet of flowers from someone you care about 25%
  50. Having someone tell you that advice or an opinion you gave turned out to be right (M)
  51. Going for a walk alone 25%
  52. A lazy drive to nowhere in particular 25%
  53. Having a nice, long stretch after sitting for awhile 24%
  54. Ordering delivery 24%
  55. Learning that a favorite treat is available (M)
  56. Nice glass of beer or wine after a long day 24%
  57. Realizing you’re going to have a good hair day 23%

Published on: Sep 3, 2018

JetBlue is Raising the Price to Check Bags–Here's Why United Airlines and Others Are Following Suit

JetBlue’s cost to check a bag has increased $5, going from $25 to $30 for your first bag, and $40 for your second (also a $5 increase). United Airlines has followed suit as well– charging a similar $30 for the first bag, and $40 for the second–their change went into effect August 31

Surely a company like JetBlue, which quite clearly has capable leadership–capable enough to keep the airline highest in customer satisfaction for 12 straight years (Southwest has now unseated them, but JetBlue hangs tight to 2nd place)–wouldn’t do something like this lightly. 

The cause? Fuel prices are spiking. 

You would imagine that they’ve run every possible scenario through various algorithms and concluded that raising baggage prices was the most logical option. And yes, something had to be done, because rising fuel prices over the last year have cut heavily into airline profits. 

As such, airlines are trying to rapidly figure out how to increase revenue while cutting expenses. 

Doug Mcgraw, Vice President, Corporate Communications at JetBlue, said, “We routinely review and adjust our ancillary pricing to ensure a healthy business so we can continue offering the best customer experience of any U.S. airline.” 

This definitely bodes problematic for those like Southwest and their infamous ‘bags fly free’ tagline. However, that isn’t stopping them from trying to find creative, ancillary techniques to drive top-line increases and recently announced that they are increasing the price of their EarlyBird boarding fee as much as $10 (depending on your route). 

Is there a hidden genius here, or is it just a last resort?

Maybe they’re banking on the price increases being offset by their faithful frequent fliers– JetBlue also has the highest-rated loyalty program among U.S. airlines.

Still, this seems like a risky tactic. Once upon a time, we liked to say that ‘any press is good press’. But that just doesn’t ring true anymore. 

No matter what amount of positive reputation JetBlue has garnered in the past, it doesn’t make them invincible to the power of bad headlines, especially when you’re a first mover of something that has to do with price hikes. And if you want to know how to get those, vaulting yourself to the top of a price list for something nobody actually likes paying for is certainly one way–even if United, WestJet, and Air Canada have all raised their prices as well.

The truth is, it’s very rare that you’d want to have the highest price for anything, especially when your biggest competitor is offering the exact same thing for free

A move like this shows that JetBlue has been painted into a corner and, and instead of waiting it out, they’re tracking through the wet stuff and making a media mess. Guess we’ll see what it looks like when it dries.