Saving the World One Straw at a Time


If you had issues with Amazon on Prime Day, you weren’t alone…a major malfunctionat the junction caused the world’s biggest retailer to experience problems with the site worldwide on its most celebrated sales day. The crash happened almost immediately after the start of the sale, and was linked to the sheer volume of visitors keen to take advantage of choice deals during the promotion.The fiasco was eventually sorted out, with Amazon taking well over an hour–an eternity in Prime Time–to restore reliable functionality to the site, but it probably won’t surprise you to learn that it severely impacted my shopping plans. I rushed the digital doors like everyone else, but instead of sweet gadgets at low prices, I was treated to pictures of Amazon employee pets…at least they were cute.

The Problem with Plastic

The impact of single-use plasticware on the environment is an issue that’s getting a lot of deserved attention.

In my community they’ve taken the step of banning disposable plasticware entirely…forks, knives, and straws are now verboten. I guess utensils made from other materials do the job, but how am I supposed to have a lunchroom-style spoon-cracking battle with a cardboard spoon?

That said, any efforts we can undertake to preserve our precious planet are worth pursuing, and a significant source of the disposable plastic problem comes from the fishing trade. You know that famous “garbage patch” in the Pacific, the one that’s three times the size of France? Turns out about 46 percent of it is fishing gear.

Humans are nothing if not a species of problem solvers, and so it’s always encouraging to hear about a set of Sapes that are working to tackle the big projects.Fishing for Energy is an organization that both works directly with fishermen to collect gear to be disposed and provides grant support for development of more efficient technology, because any problem with more than one cause requires a multifaceted solution.

Let’s Talk Google

If you’ve finally got that top-of-the-line smartphone paid off through your carrier and are thinking about switching your wireless service, keep an eye on Project Fi.

Google’s latest entry into our lives offers users access to a flexible service plan, charging a $20 base rate for unlimited talk and text and $10 per GB of data used…not a bad deal in an area with ample Wi-Fi coverage.

In somewhat of a surprise, iPhone owners can get in on the savings as well. Of course, there’s no official support (probably something to do with not pushing unit sales for their main competitor), but in a bit of irony, Google’s original service provided me witha workaround.

Robocall Resolution

While we’re on about phones, you may have noticed that spam calling has made a most unwelcome return into our lives. Robotic calls are one of the more annoying manifestations of human ingenuity, but fortunately for those who do not enjoy spam calling–hey, there’s a fetish for everything–there are effective solutions.

First thing you want to do is register yourself on the Federal Trade Commission’s “Do Not Call” registry, which is exactly what it sounds like. The laws here have teeth too, violators who make unwanted contact with DNC-protected citizens can be fined up to $40,000 per call/text/email/fax/carrier pigeon.

That should take care of most of them, but for those who aren’t technically breaking the law through some obscure loophole, you’ll need a more tailored approach. ThisPC Mag feature details various methods for eliminating spam calls once and for all, from blocking at the carrier level to screening for known robocall numbers with filtering apps.

The Last Word

Okay you crazy kids, that’s about enough for this illuminating installment of “Brad’s Blog!” I hope you’re enjoying an acceptable start to your work week, and thank you as always for making a space in your routine for my rambling rants. Hope to be back in your inbox on schedule next go-round, stay cool out there!

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