The day after thanksgiving is known simply as “Black Friday,” it was traditionally the day when Christmas shopping was so prevalent that retailers finally made a profit or got their finances “in the black” for the year. These days Black Friday has become a day of huge sales and major discounts, so it has led to mobs of unruly shoppers and almost unbearable holiday hours for retail employees. I believe that the holidays are a time to spend with family so I have always been against stores opening on Thanksgiving, but as a frugal shopper, I love to take advantage of some of the available deals of the day. I have never waited in a line or rushed a store for a sale, but stopping into a shop and grabbing a chance deal is always great during the day. Many retailers have been trying for years to use this day to drive revenue while ensuring the safety of their shoppers, and while lines and lotteries have helped avert tragic events of the past, people are still too violent and aggressive these days. Shopping should not be a stressful or dangerous event, and holiday shopping should be about buying something special for your loved ones and not a sale. This year’s Black Friday has already been filled with stories of fights and mobs, and since I don’t plan on ever finding myself in a situation in which I have to fight for a tv, I think I will keep my major purchases to “Cyber Monday” sales.
The age of television may be coming to an end in the very near future. There was once a time when television was the choice method for spreading a message, or for providing entertainment to millions, but now it has been completely supplanted by the Internet. The expanded availability of high speed internet has turned television into a thing of the past, and the rise of online streaming services is quickly killing the profits of cable and satellite television providers. I am sure that television will still be around for the next decade, but the idea of waiting for a show to air or holding a spot in your schedule for a certain program seems to be losing followers pretty quickly. In this day and age when many people have variable schedules, streaming services allow a level of flexibility that could never be be matched by today’s television networks. The benefits of streaming services far outweigh those of traditional television, aside from controlling when and what you watch, streaming services allow users to pay for what they want to see instead of paying for large tv packages to watch a single channel. Services like Netflix and Hulu are quickly becoming the norm for television viewing, and while these services don’t yet have the licenses to broadcast sporting events, I predict there will be an all sports service released in the near future. The advances in technology have made our world a much smaller and more accessible place, it is only natural that with these advancements, older technologies will fall by the wayside.
All you can eat buffets are places where you can pay a set fee and eat for a virtually indefinite amount of time. These restaurants differ from your average eatery as they forgo the paper menu and allow the customers to simply take what they want. The idea for a buffet was created by Herbert Cobb McDonald in 1965, and these eateries have become standard fare for years. The idea in for a buffet seems absurd, but when you think about it, a profit is always a possibility when everybody pays the same price but not everybody eats their money’s worth. There are many types of buffets out there, the “all you can eat” model can be seen in everything from soups to traditional Japanese cuisine, but not all buffets are created equally. I love to eat at buffets, but there are some that just don’t leave room for most people to eat much. I understand that some people like to eat spicy foods, but I’ve had all you can eat curry before, and while it was tasty I did find myself regretting the decision to go for all I could eat. All you can eat dining has become a great American tradition, and while some may call this type of consumption gluttonous, the owners and the patrons of these establishments will gladly continue to put their money into these interesting restaurants.
Fantasy football is a fickle little game. I posted before about how fantasy football has gained a significant following in recent years, and along with that following has come the online gambling that is weekly fantasy games. Weekly fantasy football leagues are the heavily advertised and not at all regulated flavor of the week. If you have ever watched any sporting event or even turned on a television show that is geared towards millennials, you probably have seen the countless ads for Fanduel and Draftkings, which are the two competing fantasy for money websites. These companies advertise a chance to win millions for dollars, by simply picking your favorite players and enjoying the games you love, but this week both companies have come under fire for the actions of their employees. An employee of Draftkings won $350,000 from Fanduel after leaking sensitive information about player ratings, then using that data to his benefit. The knowledge this employee had on players and the similarity of the two companies gave this individual a distinct and unfair advantage over his competition. Both fantasy companies have since barred their employees from playing on either site, but there are more issues with these games than just “insider trading.” The problem with these fantasy sports betting sites is that they are completely unregulated. I am not the biggest fan of government regulation, but these companies are controlling way too much money to be able to freely share data with employees who have a chance to make a financial gain from it. Many people have called these websites the new stock market, I just hope this whole fantasy sports betting thing doesn’t get out of hand. Too many people have too much at stake when it comes to sports betting and this whole ordeal may run them the wrong way. I expect some sort of regulation to come out of this mess within the next few months, but until then, I would be wary of putting money into fantasy sports.
It has been a long time since I had some great barbecue, and today I decided to head to a nice Upstate New York “barbecue joint” called Holy Smoke BBQ. I was a bit apprehensive about going to this place, since barbecue restaurants are often “hit or miss,” but after learning about their large portions of St. Louis style ribs I had to give it a try. I went into the restaurant with the intention of just trying their signature ribs, and I was pleasantly surprised by the flavor and size of the meal. Most people go into a barbecue restaurant strictly for the meats, but I am one of those rare individuals who has to try all of the sides. The mac and cheese was probably the best I have ever eaten at a barbecue restaurant, and considering the amount of eateries I have patronized, that is definitely quite a feat. The service was excellent and the meat was extremely juicy and well seasoned. I generally am not much of a rib eater, but for these ribs I would gladly make the 45 minute trip from NYC again. If you are ever in the Mahopac, NY area, check out Holy Smoke BBQ you will not be disappointed.
Chick-fil-A is a fast food restaurant that is famous for their ads featuring cows urging humans to “eat mor chikin.” Chick-fil-A has been around for years now, but until today they did not have any legitimate public locations within New York City. Not many New Yorkers were aware that there is a Chick-fil-A within the NYU food court, so most people had to wait until they ventured out of New York State before they could get their hands on one of those famous chicken sandwiches. I was never a huge fan of traveling a long distance just to get some fast food, but Chick-fil-A has managed to gain a noteriety that few other fast food chains could ever attain. New York City’s first fully loaded public Chick-fil-A restaurant is now opened in Manhattan, and I expect the lines to be very long for a very long time. The interesting thing about opening a new restaurant in New York City is how popular it can become, and how long the popularity can last. The location of the new Chick-fil-A is also extremely conducive to the chain’s inevitable success as it is right in midtown Manhattan, close to all of the tourists traps and business. I know the lines will be long, and the trip down to midtown is not exactly ideal, but I will certainly find my way to the new restaurant at least twice before the end of the year. I know some New Yorkers may find the idea of going to midtown for some fast food to be absurd, but I’m sure they will gladly make the trip once they have tasted one of the best fast food chicken sandwiches around.
Today marks the launch day for the new iPhone 6s, and along with it has come a new revision of iOS. iOS 9 has been out for a week, and today Apple decided to release fixes for the issues users have been having while using the software with update 9.0.1. The most interesting feature Apple has introduced for the new iOS is the ability to block content on the Safari browser. With the content blockers, users are able to block ads, media, and pictures while surfing the web. These content blockers lead to a faster, less cluttered, and less intrusive use of the browser. I have been using content blockers on my computer for years, so I am extremely welcoming of their addition to my mobile platform, however I fear the effect it can have on the Internet and ad revenue for companies that rely on it. I have to admit, web ads are extremely annoying, and mobile ads have become incredibly intrusive, but now that we can block them, companies will have to find new ways to make the money they will be losing. I don’t want to sound like I am the baron of bad news, but mobile content blockers could signal the end of the Internet as we know it. Many websites are no longer offering a mobile version, as they would rather push their free, yet ad supported app onto consumers. With these apps, companies can continue to get their precious ad revenue, while bringing their content directly to the consumer with constant and somewhat annoying notifications. I am not exactly a fan of loading my phone up with apps that I would only use twice a week, and I detest the idea of an app overload my phone with notifications, so if this is going to be the trend for mobile web, I will likely be spending much less time on the Internet in the near future.
Today, Apple had their yearly keynote speech, and unlike years past, they decided to load this one up with new additions. Whenever Apple wants to unveil a new product they often have a special event in which they focus on only one new product or iteration of a former product, but this year Apple decided to announce upgrades to two of their most popular products, the iPhone and the iPad, as well as a long overdue update to the Apple TV. As I watched this keynote and saw the new 12.9 inch iPad pro I wondered, “who would ever want an iPad that big?” I never actually looked at an iPad as a device that needs a larger model, but Apple seems to know how to release an item that meets a niche need, without losing its appeal to the larger public. The major news from this keynote was the introduction of Apple’s “new” iPhone. When I first saw the unveiling, it seemed like Apple was just trying to sell a slightly updated iPhone 6 with a new color variation, a strategy Apple seems to use time and time again, but upon watching the event I saw that they added quite a few interesting features. Apple knows that people think they just keep releasing the same device, with a shiny new coat of paint, so they decided to attack that exact notion. The tag line Apple used for today’s iPhone event was “the only thing that’s changed is everything,” a line that harkens to what is commonly said by critics of Apple products, “the only thing that’s changed is…” While I wouldn’t say that everything about the iPhone has changed, I will say the new 3d touch feature and camera features have made this phone seem like more of an upgrade than some of the past versions of the phone. Apple seems to be on a war path to steal complete market share from all of their competitors, and while these new products are definitely more advanced, I think I will be sticking with last year’s models until the next update. The future is definitely looking bright for technology, hopefully these newly announced products by Apple will bring forth greater improvements from all of their competition, and a golden age for technology.
Today is Labor Day, the day made to celebrate the hard work of “laborers” all over America. Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday of September, at a time that is perfect for anyone needing a rest from their busy summer schedule. I love having the ability to enjoy a national day off, but unfortunately there are many people who have to work on this great holiday. There are some jobs that are completely essential to running this society correctly, so I understand the idea of having them work today, but many people in non essential jobs should definitely have this day as a break. The class of job that I am referring to is the dreaded retail job. Retail work is the way of life for almost 1/4th of Americans, and this number seems to be growing exponentially. There was a time that I worked retail for a while, and I can honestly say that retail work, while it does pay, may be the thing I actually detest the most. I remember working a few retail jobs while I was in college, and just enjoying the fact that I had some spending money, but when I worked a bit of retail after graduation, I knew that it was definitely not for me. There was a time when retail work was seen as a temporary solution, or as a job for teenagers, but in this economy it has become a staple for many people and families. I understand that many need to work retail, I just wish retail companies wouldn’t exploit their employees. On this day that marks the necessity of our country’s labor force, many people have to work extended hours in order to satisfy company goals. Retail workers today are not always treated very fairly, and they have very little job security. I know that all companies are not the same, and that retail was not built to be a long term career, but I find it absurd that so little has changed in the world of retail over the years. I have never been one to call for unionization, and I don’t think retail workers should even be in a union, I just think that more changes should be made to make work more fair for retail workers. Labor Day celebrates the work of our country’s citizens, hopefully one day, retail will be more regulated to allow for better treatment of their overworked workforce.
Craigslist can actually be a great place to buy things from time to time. Over the past few years I have used this website to sell old electronics and purchase random items. I have rarely had any issues with using this website. The thing about successfully purchasing anything on craigslist is knowing what you want to buy and doing your research about the product. There are hundreds of people trying to pawn off their busted cars and computers on unsuspecting buyers, but if you know where to look, you can really find hidden and affordable gems. Craigslist is a site where people can sign up to buy and sell almost anything, I have personally purchased and sold computers, games, and cell phones on this site since it is fast and easy to complete a sale, but things can be dangerous. There have been recent stories of muggings and even murders connected to Craigslist, but with a few wise safety measures, all of these cases could have been avoided. The safest way to make a transaction via Craigslist is to only meet in a safe, heavily populated area. It also helps to bring a friend or a mode of transportation so you can quickly leave if necessary. Every posting and person on Craigslist isn’t legit, so it pays to make sure you are safe and not being cheated. It takes time to find a real posting on Craigslist, but if you are looking to buy something rare or for a low price, and you know how to distinguish a real seller from a fraudster, then you will definitely be happy using this site.