Textbook Racketeering

John McDuling at Quartz on the college textbook racket:

Even so, the trend is clear. College textbook prices have more than doubled since December 2001, the first month data were broken out for college textbooks. Over the same period the overall consumer price level is up just 35%.

Help may be on the way. A range of new digital entrants are offering textbooks at much cheaper prices, or even for free. In the research note, Morgan Stanley analysts point to Boundless Resources, Flat World Knowledge, OpenStax and Bookboon as notable, would-be disruptors in college textbooks.
Cheaper textbooks is a welcome disruption. Fuck the publishers.
And what do I mean by the college textbook industry being a "racket"?
From [Wikipedia](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racket_(crime)): "A racket is a service that is fraudulently offered to solve a problem, such as for a problem that does not actually exist, will not be affected, or would not otherwise exist."
College textbooks get updated every year, many times with little to no relevant updates to the content. This is all done so students have to buy the newest version every year. So textbook publishers are offering to solve a problem that does not actually exist. The existing books don't need updating.
This is bullshit.

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Education

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Help us Kanye, you’re our only hope.

Robots aren't going to replace designers, Kanye-fucking-West will:

Kanye West has offered to redesign Instagram, suggesting that it would be "a simple task" for him to beautify the popular photo app. Speaking at a seminar at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, West cited the success of his instagrammed wedding kiss with Kim Kardashian, which is already the most-liked photo in the history of the app.
West knows how to produce an album, I'll give him that. But to consider the act of redesigning a mobile application 'a simple task' is insulting. Kanye knows the creative process well. Whether you're creating music or creating a mobile applications, you have to gather resources, and then iterate and iterate and iterate until you achieve what you're aiming for. Once that's done you might even need to go back and refine and rework what you've made.
I think mobile applications suffer from the perception they're "simple" and couldn't be that hard to make because they're (usually) simple to use, (usually) free to download and have small, cute little icons on your screen.
Custom iconography? Secure databases to store user accounts? Wireframes and user flows to map out the experience of the app? Interactions, animations and transitions? Quality assurance testing? Bug fixing? Image optimization, uploading and storage?
Now take all your requirements and multiple them by a potential install base of 100,000,000 (1/8 of the total number of iTunes accounts, I'm being nice).
Designing and building mobile applications is not a simple task.
But hey, it's Kanye. I expect batshit crazy comments from him every now and then.

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Technology

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Leave A Message

In a memorable scene from the 1996 comedy "Swingers," Jon Favreau's romantically inept protagonist, Mike, deluges the answering machine of a woman he's just met at a bar with a spate of excruciatingly self-sabotaging messages.

If the movie were remade today, Mike would have to find another outlet for his miscues. The concept of leaving (and checking) voice mail is, to millennials, as obsolete as swing-dancing and playing NHL '94 on Sega Genesis. That red number on their iPhones announcing how many voice mail messages are waiting? Ignored. The recording? Instantly deleted. Mike's oral-to-aural disaster? Averted.
—Teddy Wayne, NYTimes.com

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Technology

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Weekly Exhaust Ep. 5: That’s How SkyNet Is Gonna Get Us

This week Michael and Bryan discuss bandwidth speeds, the Amazon Fire Phone, the post-employment society of the near future, working less than 40 hours a week and still being productive as shit, more suckiness factors in soccer, molasses, Cumberbitches and why Wall Street sucks.
The episode opens with the exhaust from a 1969 Charger.
Weekly Exhaust, Episode 5
If you're interested in sponsoring the podcast, contact Michael.

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Podcast

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Grand Opening, Grand Closing

To play devil's advocate to my vinyl post, some things do die:

Wednesday's demise of Code Spaces is a cautionary tale, not just for services in the business of storing sensitive data, but also for end users who entrust their most valuable assets to such services. Within the span of 12 hours, the service experienced the permanent destruction of most Apache Subversion repositories and Elastic Block Store volumes and all of the service's virtual machines. With no way to restore the data, Code Spaces officials said they were winding down the operation and helping customers migrate any remaining data to other services.
What he said.

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Business

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Vinyl Is Dead

Mr. White's latest release, "Lazaretto" (Third Man/Columbia), opened at No. 1 on Billboard's album chart with 138,000 sales, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and 40,000 of those sales were for its "ultra" vinyl edition. That is the biggest week for a vinyl album since SoundScan began tracking music sales in 1991; the last title to hold the record was Pearl Jam's "Vitalogy," which sold 34,000 copies on LP when it came out in 1994.
Ben Sisario, NYTimes.com
Keep stories like this in mind whenever you're feeling the urge to declare something "dead". Vinyl won't ever beat digital download sales, but it's far from dead.

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Music

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Yo

username: combustion

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Community

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